An ethics professor and secret demon hunter reunites with his estranged sister to take on a powerful demonic entity in the trailer for Helstrom, an upcoming horror series based on Marvel Comics characters. The 10-episode series debuts on Hulu next month
Helstrom has a complicated back story. As we reported in 2019, Hulu announced the development of two new Marvel-centric series, Ghost Rider (with Gabriel Luna reprising his role from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) and Helstrom. The shows were intended to kick off a standalone “Adventure into Fear” franchise that would bring a chilling horror element to the Marvel formula. Ghost Rider soon fell by the wayside, and by December 2019, Marvel Television was shut down. That makes Helstrom the sole survivor of the planned fear-based franchise. Shooting finished in March, right before the coronavirus pandemic caused most Hollywood productions to grind to a halt. Showrunner Paul Zbyszewski’s contract was terminated in April—also due to the pandemic—but he stayed on for postproduction.
The series focuses on two characters from Marvel Comics. First: Daimon Helstrom, the son of Satan, introduced in Ghost Rider #1 (1973). He eventually became a recurring character in The Defenders. The other protagonist is his sister, Satana (Ana in the TV adaptation), who embraces the occult and her paternal heritage while Daimon chooses to defend humanity. Per the official premise: “The world isn’t ready for a Helstrom family reunion. As the son and daughter of a mysterious and powerful serial killer, Helstrom follows Daimon (Tom Austen) and Ana Helstrom (Sydney Lemmon), and their complicated dynamic, as they track down the worst of humanity—each with their own attitude and skills.”
The first teaser debuted in July at Comic-Con@Home, and the overall tone was pretty much in line with the oft-delayed The New Mutants, another attempt to bring elements of horror to the superhero genre. The New Mutants was released a few weeks ago, despite many theaters still being closed; apparently there were contractual reasons the film couldn’t be released on Hulu or Disney+. It mostly received mixed reviews and thus far has only grossed about $35 million against a budget that purportedly was between $67 million and $80 million.
Let’s hope Helstrom fares a bit better, given that streaming television has been keeping us all sane in these strange times and horror is fitting October fare. In addition to Austen (The Royals, Grantchester) and Lemmon (Velvet Buzzsaw, Fear the Walking Dead), Helstrom features Elizabeth Marvel (Homeland, House of Cards) as Daimon and Ana’s mother, Victoria, who has been institutionalized for 20 years; Robert Wisdom (The Wire) as Caretaker, a demon-fighting guardian of the occult; June Carryl (Mindhunter) as Louise Hastings, head of the psychiatric institution housing Victoria; and Ariana Guerra (Raising Dion) as Vatican agent Gabriella Rossetti.
The trailer opens with a voiceover from Caretaker: “For centuries, we’ve been fighting and keeping track of things that move in and out of this world. The most dangerous ones, we find a way to contain. This is one of the worst ever.” Then we see Daimon visit his mother in the institution—except she appears to be possessed by a demonic entity. Cue Peter Gabriel’s “My Body Is a Cage” as we see Daimon inform Ana by phone that whatever the thing is inside their mother, it’s growing stronger.
Apparently, Caretaker and Louise Hastings aren’t sure it’s such a good idea to reunite the siblings, but as Caretaker points out, they’re dealing with “a demon so powerful it could wipe out all of mankind.” So maybe it’s worth the risk. I do like Ana’s opening line when she finally faces her brother again: “Please tell me the <bleep> is dead.” (Yes, they really bleeped it.)
Helstrom will debut on Hulu on October 16, 2020.
Listing image by YouTube/Hulu