Shining Vale — Chapter 1, Welcome to Casa De Phelps Review

Probably Just A Deer

By Mark

The latest series to tickle your senses on streaming service Starzplay comes from the minds of Jeff Astrof (“Trial & Error (TV)”, “The Meatball Project (TV)”) and Sharon Horgan (“Motherland (TV)”, “Catastrophe (TV)”), welcome, to Shining Vale.

The series leaves you in no doubt as to what you’re in for with the opening card which informs us that women are roughly twice as likely as men to suffer depression and then lists the symptoms, before informing us they are also roughly twice as likely to be possessed by a demon, with the same symptoms.

Moving to this delightful, small town are: dad Terry Phelps, Greg Kinnear (“ Brigsby Bear”, “ The Stand (TV) “), mum Pat Phelps, Courtney Cox (“Scream”, “Shameless (TV)”), daughter Gaynor Phelps, Gus Birney (“Dickinson (TV)”, “Plan B”), and son Jake Phelps, Dylan Gage (“PEN15 (TV)”, “Hillbilly Elegy”).

Things don’t go well from the start as Terry is driving his family to their new abode, Pat is thinking about the affair she had which nearly ended the family, Gaynor is being a stroppy teenager and Jake hasn’t looked up from his computer game. Then Pat suddenly grabs the steering wheel to avoid a young girl in the road.

Except, when Terry and Pat get out, there’s no-one there, no-one around at all. So begins Terry’s default explanation, “it must have been a deer”.

We learn that Pat is a writer and wrote a famous book, which the realtor describes as ‘lady porn’, but that was 17-years ago and she hasn’t managed to write anything since, despite having an advance from her publishers who are now getting edgy and threatening to take it back.

The large house they’ve bought has been empty for two years, the removal guys have lost some of the family’s furniture and then Pat begins seeing and hearing things; people at the window, voices, tapping noises, it’s freaking her out but no-one else is seeing or hearing anything.

We see a glimpse of Pat and Terry in counselling where we hear that Pat’s mother suffered from depression and psychosis whilst Pat has been an alcoholic in the past.

It’s a great introduction to the family and to what possibly lies ahead for us in the rest of the series. There’s probably more on the jump-scare side of things than the actual horror or comedy in this episode at least, but there’s definitely enough to bring us back for another episode.

This episode was directed by Dearbhla Walsh (“Fargo (TV)”, “The Handmaid’s Tale (TV)”) who, together with writers Jeff Astrof and, Sharon Horgan, manage to balance the horror and comedy well.

Originally published at



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