Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Love or Hate 'American Sniper,' We're Brought Together By Its Bad Fake Baby Love or Hate 'American Sniper,' We're Brought Together By Its Bad Fake Baby 'Better Call Saul': 'Breaking Bad' Prequel Accepts the Charges 'Better Call Saul': 'Breaking Bad' Prequel Accepts the Charges 'Girls' Outrage Tracker: Season 4, Episode 2, 'Triggering' 'Girls' Outrage Tracker: Season 4, Episode 2, 'Triggering' Why the Unanimous Praise for 'Boyhood' Is Bad for Film Criticism — and for 'Boyhood' Why the Unanimous Praise for 'Boyhood' Is Bad for Film Criticism — and for 'Boyhood' 'The End of the Tour' Sundance Reviews: Jason Segel Impresses as David Foster Wallace 'The End of the Tour' Sundance Reviews: Jason Segel Impresses as David Foster Wallace 'Girls' Outrage Tracker: Season 4, Episode 1, 'Iowa' 'Girls' Outrage Tracker: Season 4, Episode 1, 'Iowa' The A.V. Club's 25 Best Sitcom Episodes of the Past 25 Years: 'Seinfeld,' 'The Simpsons' and More The A.V. Club's 25 Best Sitcom Episodes of the Past 25 Years: 'Seinfeld,' 'The Simpsons' and More First Reviews of Johnny Depp's 'Mortdecai': Scraping Bottom With a Waxed Moustache First Reviews of Johnny Depp's 'Mortdecai': Scraping Bottom With a Waxed Moustache Not at Sundance? Watch 14 Festival Films Via Sundance's #ArtistServices Not at Sundance? Watch 14 Festival Films Via Sundance's #ArtistServices 'Strange Magic' Reviews: Yup, That's Late Period George Lucas, All Right 'Strange Magic' Reviews: Yup, That's Late Period George Lucas, All Right Daily Reads: Stop Pitting 'Broad City' Against 'Girls,' How Political Pundits Warp 'American Sniper,' and more Daily Reads: Stop Pitting 'Broad City' Against 'Girls,' How Political Pundits Warp 'American Sniper,' and more 'Going Clear' Sundance Reviews: A Scorching Takedown of Scientology 'Going Clear' Sundance Reviews: A Scorching Takedown of Scientology Meet the Indiewire | Sundance Institute Ebert Film Criticism Fellows, 2015 Meet the Indiewire | Sundance Institute Ebert Film Criticism Fellows, 2015 Now Streaming: 'The Interview' and Other Movies That Didn't Get Us Threatened Now Streaming: 'The Interview' and Other Movies That Didn't Get Us Threatened Cahiers du Cinema's Top 10 Movies of 2014: 'Goodbye to Language,' 'Under the Skin,' 'Love Is Strange' Cahiers du Cinema's Top 10 Movies of 2014: 'Goodbye to Language,' 'Under the Skin,' 'Love Is Strange' Criticwire Classic of the Week: Jim Jarmusch's 'Dead Man' Criticwire Classic of the Week: Jim Jarmusch's 'Dead Man' The Scrambled Sexuality of 'Frozen's "Let It Go" The Scrambled Sexuality of 'Frozen's "Let It Go" 'Disney Deaths' and 'Big Hero 6': How Children's Stories Process Loss 'Disney Deaths' and 'Big Hero 6': How Children's Stories Process Loss Daily Reads: Movie Monsters That Look Like Genitalia, Why It Feels Like There's Too Much TV and More Daily Reads: Movie Monsters That Look Like Genitalia, Why It Feels Like There's Too Much TV and More Daily Reads: The Epic Uncool of Philip Seymour Hoffman's Career, How Scarlett Johansson Subverts Her Good Looks and More Daily Reads: The Epic Uncool of Philip Seymour Hoffman's Career, How Scarlett Johansson Subverts Her Good Looks and More

'Garth Marenghi's Darkplace' Is Horror at Its Worst, Comedy at Its Best

Photo of Sam Adams By Sam Adams | Criticwire October 31, 2013 at 2:31PM

Enough with celebrating the best in horror. At Halloween approaches, savor the deliberate and glorious dreadfulness of this supremely well-made send-up.
3
Darkplace

Plenty of publications have been using the month of October to celebrate the best in horror, but the A.V. Club's Erik Adams went another way, celebrating the genre at its absolute worst. Garth Marenghi's Darkplace is a retrospective that looks back at the short-lived supernatural hospital show created by and starring the titular "one-man fear factory." It's also, okay, a joke, a sublimely terrible parody of low-budget production values, inept acting and rampant ego. 

The overwritten glory of Darkplace marks Garth Marenghi himself as the show’s crowning achievement. He possesses all of Stephen King's prolificacy and none of his media savvy; he's infected with the prickliness of a Harlan Ellison, but doesn’t have the talent or insight to back it up. All of Darkplace is filtered through Garth’s myopic perspective, which was molded over the course of two Perrier Award-nominated (and one Perrier Award-winning) theatrical productions at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe: Garth Marenghi’s Fright Knight and Garth Marenghi's Netherhead

At least one of Garth's co-stars will be familiar to American audiences: His publisher, Dean Learner, played by Richard Ayoade, whose resume includes starring opposite Chris O'Dowd in the tech comedy series The I.T. Crowd, directing the Wes Andersonian coming-of-age tale Submarine and the forthcoming adaptation of Dostoevsky's The Double, and being the only good thing about The Watch. He's technically second fiddle here to Matt Holness, who plays the sublimely egocentric Marenghi. But his presence behind the camera is essential when it comes to realizing the hilarious badness of Darkplace's show within a show. Though it might seem otherwise, it takes tremendous skill to be bad on purpose, at least in a way that doesn't seem merely amateurish. From its misplaced edits to flat performances and overripe dialogue, Darkplace is perfect in its imperfections.

The TV gods have not yet seen fit to give U.S. residents Darkplace on DVD, but the whole series is on YouTube. If you'd like to hear more from the writer of "Afterbirth, in which a mutated placenta attacks Bristol," get streaming.

Update, 2/7/14: The TV Gods are great. Garth Marenghi's Darkplace is now available on Hulu.



E-Mail Updates