3 out of 5 stars

The second episode of Black Mirror‘s sixth series has a clear aim on its target from the beginning. “Loch Henry” is part homage, part parody, and full-on criticism of the true-crime documentary/docuseries trend that’s swept over every streaming service—of which Netflix, Black Mirror‘s home, is undoubtedly included.

“Loch Henry” focuses on Davis McCardle (Samuel Blenkin) and Pia Koreshi (Myha’la Herrold), two film students visiting McCardle’s hometown in Scotland to film a documentary on a local conservationist. But while visiting Davis’s old friend, Stuart King (Game of Thrones‘ Daniel Portman), at his run-down bar, Koreshi learns of the town’s murderous past and how it affected the McCardle family.

Koreshi is suddenly convinced this is the story they should be focusing on for their film, as an explosive true-crime series is easier to sell than a niche documentary about conservation, especially as one of them has a personal connection to the crimes. This story could result in their big break.

As with “Joan is Awful“, “Loch Henry” (mostly) refuses to pull its punches, despite the fact Netflix is one of the episode’s targets. The story looks at what true-crime documentaries often miss or leave out in their search for the most exciting angles and episodic cliffhanger endings.

It also briefly touches on the impact of “true crime tourism“, which has become a recent real-life issue thanks to the popularity of streaming docs and the urge viewers have to play amateur detective. There’s more meat left on the bone when it comes to exploring that juicy topic, however, so perhaps writer-creator Charlie Brooker will return to it in a future Black Mirror.

The story has some twists and turns along the way, some of which are predictable, but it’s a surprisingly straightforward Black Mirror tale. While the show’s traditional themes of technology’s role in society and the dark heart of humanity are woven into the fabric of the story, for the most part, the episode is close to being a conventional horror thriller.

Almost every episode of Black Mirror involves seeing things through a nesting doll of story frameworks, so I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop during “Loch Henry.” But while that didn’t really happen, it marked a refreshing change of pace for the series, even if it ultimately felt less compelling than usual.

Credit is also due to veteran TV director Sam Miller for mixing the grainy true-crime documentary style with some excellent and horrific visuals. Elements of The Silence of the Lambs (1991) came to mind on a couple of occasions. But while Brooker deserves credit for going outside of his comfort zone with Black Mirror, he steps into markedly more comfortable genre terrain.

UK | 2023 | 54 MINUTES | 16:9 HD | COLOUR | ENGLISH

frame rated divider netflix

Cast & Crew

writer: Charlie Brooker.
director: Sam Miller.
starring: Samuel Blenkin, Myha’la Herrold, Daniel Portman, John Hannah, Monica Dolan, Gregor Firth, Ellie White, Tom Crowhurst & Weruche Opia.