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The Horror of Dolores Roach: A Dark and Gritty Urban Legend that Falls Short

Screen Grab from Amazon

The Horror of Dolores Roach, an Amazon Original Series based on the popular Gimlet podcast, offers viewers a contemporary and macabre take on the Sweeney Todd story. With its themes of love, betrayal, survival, and cannibalism, the show has all the ingredients for a compelling and thrilling narrative. However, despite its potential, the series ultimately falls short in its execution and fails to fully explore its intriguing premise.

The story revolves around Dolores Roach played by Justina Machado, she was recently released from prison after serving 16 years. Returning to a dramatically gentrified Washington Heights with nothing but $200 and the clothes on her back ($200 is better than nothing), Dolores finds solace in reuniting with her old stoner friend, Luis. Seeking stability, Dolores starts offering massages for cash in the basement of Luis' dilapidated storefront, Empanada Loca, her only connection to her past. As Dolores faces threats to her newfound stability, she is driven to extreme measures to survive. Meanwhile, her relationship with Luis becomes dangerously symbiotic, and the series delves into the peculiar predilections of both characters.

The cast of The Horror of Dolores Roach delivers commendable performances. Justina Machado shines in the titular role, capturing Dolores' resilience and desperation with conviction. Alejandro Hernandez as Luis adds depth to the complex relationship between the two characters. The supporting cast, including Cyndi Lauper, Marc Maron, Jean Yoon, Judy Reyes, and Jeffery Self, brings a level of talent and credibility to their respective roles.

One notable aspect of the series is the constant narration provided by Justina Machado's Dolores. However, this storytelling device becomes overused and unnecessary, as it often explains the obvious to the viewers. While it might serve as a clue for those unfamiliar with the podcast origins, it neglects the audience's ability to perceive the action and emotions on screen. The excessive narration feels redundant and distracts from the visual storytelling, it's good if you're lazy watching you won't miss a thing.

Watch It Here on Amazon

Furthermore, The Horror of Dolores Roach falls short in its attempts to address broader themes such as gentrification and toxic romance. The commentary on gentrification feels shallow and fails to provide any meaningful insights or thought-provoking moments. Similarly, the toxic romance between Dolores and Luis lacks depth, relying on abstract stereotypes rather than developing genuine relationships. The series misses the opportunity to explore the complexities of these themes and instead opts for superficial portrayals.

Comparisons to the iconic Sweeney Todd story are inevitable, given the shared inspiration. However, The Horror of Dolores Roach lacks the gore and stylishness that made Sweeney Todd successful. While the series offers a dark and gritty atmosphere, it fails to fully capture the macabre essence that defined the original tale. The horror elements, though occasionally effective, lack the impact and intensity required to leave a lasting impression on the audience.

Despite its shortcomings, The Horror of Dolores Roach does have its moments. The performance of Maureen Cassidy as Tabitha, Dolores' prison beau, stands out as a highlight. Although confined to the series' margins due to her character's incarceration, Cassidy manages to bring depth and nuance to her limited screen time. Her presence injects a much-needed spark into the narrative, providing a glimpse of what the series could have been with stronger character development.

The Horror of Dolores Roach presents a promising premise and a talented cast but ultimately fails to deliver a truly compelling and memorable experience. The overuse of narration, shallow exploration of themes, and lack of operatic flair prevent the series from reaching its full potential. While it may appeal to fans of the podcast or those seeking a dark and gritty urban legend, I recommend approaching the series with tempered expectations.

Watch It Here on Amazon

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