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“The Clearing” Review: A Cult Thriller Worth Watching

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By Kayla Newton

Where to stream it? Hulu in the U.S. and Disney+ in other regions (premieres May 24)

Starring: Starring Teresa Palmer, Miranda Otto, Guy Pearce, Julia Savage

Written by: Elise McCredie, Matt Cameron, Osamah Sami

Directed by: Jeffrey Walker, Gracie Otto

Intro: The Clearing Review

The first three episodes of the eight episodes series were screened in advance for this review

The Clearing is an unnerving new show based off of the literary bestseller In The Clearing by J.P. Pomare. The psychological thriller contains eight episodes, with each episode being almost an hour long. 

As soon as you get into the show, you immediately take notice of all the characters’ stark blonde bobs. Then you realize they’re all in a cult— and not by choice. The show is about the story of a cult of children who are kidnapped in Australia. Some of the kids are as young as six years old and the cult is called the Kindred Mission

The cult leader, as we soon find out, is named Matriah (Miranda Otto). This character is as conniving as she is convincing, and has managed to trick the kidnapped children into thinking that she is their mother. 

The viewer follows the story through the lens of Amy (Teresa Palmer), one of the previously kidnapped children as an adult. We get back and forth cuts of the cult when young Amy (Julia Savage) was a child, and adult Amy dealing with the trauma once she is older. 

The show is inspired by a real life occurrence that transpired in the 1960’s. A cult called The Family kidnapped children and raised them to believe they were the reincarnation of Jesus’ Apostles. The Family was run by a woman named Anne Hamilton-Byrne, who wanted the children to believe she herself was the reincarnation of Jesus Christ. 

The Clearing does a great job at intertwining the real life inspiration and its own fictionalized storyline into one interesting story. This helps add to the mystery of the show, and even viewers who know the story of The Family can expect a couple of good twists. 

Otto’s and Palmer’s On Screen Chemistry

Miranda Otto’s performance is incredible, and like I mentioned before— extremely convincing. There were many ways that her character, Matriah, could’ve been overplayed, or made into something flat-out unbelievable. But Otto made Matriah feel both comforting and maniacal at the same time. And that helps the viewer be able to empathize with how Amy must feel about her cult mother. 

Adult Amy, played by Teresa Palmer is well acted. The viewer gets to understand the mental hellscape of a woman who lived through a horrific situation. Palmer’s performance truly made me feel for Amy, as she suffers from PTSD and other related traumas. 

Due to how the show is set up for at least the first three episodes, we as viewers can’t tell the true intentions or relationships of any of the characters. But the relationship between Amy and Matriah is explored well. We don’t know exactly what’s going on, but Otto and Palmer portray an unsettling cult mother-daughter relationship as well as you could imagine. 

Final Thoughts: The Clearing Review

The Clearing is a good show. At times, the episodes did feel a bit long, but the twists at the end of each episode made up for the slower pacing. 

The show features a very interesting and bone-chilling concept. If you’re looking for a slow pace thriller with what feels like a big build up, this show is definitely for you. The acting and cinematography is very solid, and makes you want to keep binging the next episode.

I would recommend watching this show with the thought in mind that the storyline of The Clearing might not be entirely clear until the tail end of the season. Who doesn’t love a good mystery?

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Shall I Stream It?
Shall I Stream It?
Shall I Stream It? is your source for all things movies, TV, and streaming. From movie and TV reviews to all the latest info on cordcutting, we're here to help you decide what to watch and where to watch it.
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