Deemed “so scary people say they can’t sleep,” Netflix’s new horror series “Typewriter” has been advertised as the scariest show on the streaming site. But rather than being the next “Haunting of Hill House,” the show has a creep factor far more reminiscent of “Goosebumps.” Here’s why you should still check it out.
It’s aptly titled; “Typewriter” centers around a haunted typewriter that belonged to an author of ghost stories, Madhav Mathews, who died mysteriously decades before the story starts. Inspired by the rumor that he died before finishing his final book, “The Ghost of Sultanpore,” a plucky group of young ghosthunters decide to investigate his abandoned home at Bardez Villa in Goa, India, but their plans get put on hold when the author’s granddaughter, Jenny, moves back into the estate with her family. Things soon take a turn for the supernatural, and the “Ghost Club” must team up with Jenny to save her family from the spirit inhabiting her home.
The series opens with the night of Mathew’s death in perhaps one of the most chilling scenes in recent media memory. A young Jenny fetches her grandfather to check her room for ghosts because she hears somebody crying, but after checking every nook and cranny in her room and finding nothing, he tucks her back in and heads out. Jenny insists that she hears somebody crying under her bed, and as her grandfather leans down to prove there’s nothing there, he sees … Jenny, who tells him that someone is lying on her bed. It’s enough to send a chill down viewers’ spines as the title sequence begins.
But the chills become scarcer as the series goes on; sure, the first two episodes pack in some pure terror, but the final three focus more on the drama of the tale. At its heart, “Typewriter” is a thrilling mystery with elements of horror, rather than a full-blown horror story, and it relies on its eeriness to unsettle viewers.
What the series might lack in nail-biting scenes, it more than makes up for with an enthralling story, original and endearing characters, and humor. Even if you aren’t gripped in fear, “Typewriter” will keep you entertained and on the edge of your seat the entire time. The show does a great job of meticulously hinting at what’s going on, which makes you eager for the next episode and the next reveal. Plot twists abound, and it’s incredibly fun to solve each piece of the puzzle along with the main characters.
Apart from a few minor plot inconsistencies and an underdeveloped side plot that will likely be further explored in a follow-up season, the story is tight-knit and well-written. Some attempts at humor fall a bit flat, but for the most part, the show is a funny, lighthearted romp, and “Typewriter” impresses audiences with callbacks to jokes and plot points from earlier episodes.
But perhaps the best part about “Typewriter” is its believable characters and the talented actors who play them. Just like in “Stranger Things” and “The Haunting of Hill House,” the child actors excel at their roles and really make you care about them; Sam, the leader of the Ghost Club, is a strong-willed and independent troublemaker mourning the loss of her mother, whose motivation for finding ghosts is heartbreakingly poignant: She’s looking for a way to see her mom again.
Sam’s relationship with her father, Ravi, takes center stage throughout the series. As a widower police officer trying his best to raise his mischievous daughter, Ravi exemplifies the struggle of a single dad whose child doesn’t make it easy on him. The other kids, Gablu, Bunty and Nick, all have their individual motivations and personalities as well, and although their familial relationships are glossed over in favor of focusing on Sam and Ravi, they will likely become more fleshed out in a (currently unconfirmed) second season.
Probably the most important character of the series is Jenny, who is masterfully portrayed by Palomi Ghosh. Her intelligence, heart and comedic timing make Jenny just as compelling and nuanced of a female character as Sam. Both Ghosh and Ravi’s actor, Purab Kohli, play off each other and the kids phenomenally.
All in all, “Typewriter” is an excellent show with high production quality and a lot of talent. It has the vibe of an extended movie rather than a series; the five episodes are short and sweet, and the whole series clocks in at just over four hours, making it the perfect length to watch over a day or two.
Since the series was made in India, most of the original dialogue isn’t in English. There is a dubbed version, but unless you absolutely hate subtitles, I’d highly recommend watching the original. The series flows a lot more smoothly in Hindi, and you won’t get distracted by the fact the audio doesn’t match the characters’ mouths. Furthermore, translation barriers and time constraints make the English lines sound rushed and unnatural at times.
If you’re looking for a series that will keep you up at night, fearful for your sanity, “Typewriter” probably isn’t the right choice, but if you want a lighthearted, binge-able thriller with a complex storyline and entertaining, interesting characters, the series is well worth the watch. While Netflix hasn’t yet confirmed if there will be a second season, the final episode’s cliffhanger will leave you begging for more.