DC Universe is carving out quite a niche for itself when it comes to adapting some of the lesser known aspects of DC Comics for live action. With Titans and Doom Patrol already delighting fans, their sites are now set on Swamp Thing. The character had a live-action film by horror-meister Wes Craven in 1982 which became a cult classic, but aside from a little-seen sequel, short-lived basic cable series and some appearances in animation, we haven't seen much of the character on screen. But, that might be about to change.
Critical response for Swamp Thing is running quite positive, meaning that there are already several people with the hope that we can return to this dangerous swamp for additional seasons once the initial 10 episode run is over. And, one of those reviews comes from CinemaBlend's own Nick Venable. While Nick did note that there might be too much time spent in the early episodes setting up storylines and secondary characters, he did find a lot to praise about the horror / superhero outing in his four star review, including how the show manages to stay grounded despite the fantastical story:
Swamp Thing excels in many ways, and the way the series consistently downplays over-the-top moments stands out as a big plus in the early episodes available for review. The narrative comes across as grounded, not because the creative team got exhaustive in the minutiae, but because the performances and the score simply aren't over-extended for dramatic impact. There is some mild camp to be found if one looks hard enough, but Swamp Thing expertly cuts the genre fat to keep audiences locked into the suspense.
And, that suspense is deeply rooted in horror, as many of those behind the show, including executive producer James Wan, have backgrounds in the genre and have fully brought that aesthetic to Swamp Thing. Bloody Disgusting was impressed with the way the show embraces horror and the darker storytelling acceptable on the new streaming service:
Swamp Thing has a truly unique aesthetic and visual tone for any DC show or film we've seen in years, and takes full advantage of the DC Universe's R-rated approach with fantastic creature effects and body-horror inspirations.
Among even the positive reviews of Swamp Thing, which is running at an impressive rating of 93% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes right now, there's some conflict over whether or not the spooky nature of the show veers a bit much into camp or if it is, indeed, truly a scary viewing experience. The Daily Dot, for one, is of the opinion that even though the tone does offer up good creepy moments, the silliness of the basic premise shines through, but manages to do so without harming the overall feel of the show:
Unlike NBC’s Constantine, it actually seems to appreciate the source material. It may not fully embrace Alan Moore’s visceral strangeness, but it’s entertainingly spooky and doesn’t try to be more serious than its silly premise suggests. If you want to watch a show about a Thing that lives in a swamp, Swamp Thing absolutely delivers.
On the other hand, The Mary Sue, for its part, believes that the grounded nature of the action in Swamp Thing is what keeps it deeply scary, and also stops it from veering into camp-tastic shenanigans that would earn it near constant comparisons to another horror series set in Louisiana which embraced camp for much of its run:
...Instead of leaning into gloomy grit or trippy humor, Swamp Thing leans heavily into horror, delivering a truly scary TV-watching experience. The series’ blend of Southern Gothic and body horror, not to mention its Louisiana setting, will no doubt draw comparisons to HBO’s True Blood. But unlike the campy vampire series, Swamp Thing grounds itself in its human relationships and leans heavily on the inherent horrors swimming in the swamp.
Though it is at times captivating with its nausea-inducing practical effects (the CGI stuff is less impressive), it’s not enough that the first hour plays like a horror movie, because at a certain point, even the horror begins to feel recycled (when you’ve seen one body with vines wriggling through every orifice you’ve sort of seen them all).
For i09, though, those inherent horrors mentioned earlier are actually made even better with the mix of practical and computer effects that were used to bring both Swamp Thing himself and a myriad of other creatures and abominations to life for the show. The result sounds like something that's capable of getting to both those used to horror content and novices to the genre:
There’s a morbid, grim beauty to many of Swamp Thing’s practical effects that are smartly presented alongside respectable VFX in order give the show the overall feel of a brilliantly-executed B horror movie. As you’re watching a cluster of tentacles explode from a corpse’s chest, it’s not as if you can’t tell that the tentacles are just rubber. But Swamp Thing uses its practical props in such a way that gives its grotesque monsters a raw, terrifying physicality. A rotting tentacle monster is bad enough on its own, but when you can see it sloughing off huge chunks of human flesh that splatter loudly onto the floor, it’s...it’s just something else.
Overall, it seems that Swamp Thing will be the right show for anyone looking for horror, a bit of gore, fantasy and a story that is still somehow grounded in a well-built world that feels creepily real. It seems to be on the right track toward satisfying fans of many different genres, plus those who've been waiting for another live-action tale told in the world of iconic man / vegetation hybrid. You can decide for yourself if Swamp Thing fills the bill when it debuts on DC Universe this Friday, May 31.