This week Netflix will release the original series The Woman in the House Across the Street From the Girl in the Window. From this point forward I’ll just refer to it as The Woman in the House. The series’ title, which is too long to even fit into the title of this review, is a riff on films like The Woman in the Window. The types of thrillers that the series is spoofing with a slick blend of dark humor and mystery.
Kristen Bell (The Good Place) plays Anna, a grieving, newly single woman who spends the majority of her time drinking wine and glaring out the first floor window of her suburban home; watching neighbors and day dreaming as an escape from the past traumas that now consume her. After witnessing a murder in the house across the street, Anna begins to question everything when the police tell her no such murder occurred. Did she imagine the whole thing? Was it a wine and pill induced hallucination, or is there a dark and twisted secret unraveling in her neighborhood?
To the series’ credit, it spoofs the genre incredibly well. To the series’ detriment, it almost spoofs it too well. It mimics its intended target so closely, weaving the standard tropes and gimmicks into its plot so seamlessly that at times, I forgot I was watching a satire. The genre, which was perfected by Alfred Hitchcock with Rear Window, is rife with clichés. Easy pickings for a series looking to satirize them; however, The Woman in the House’s blend of mystery, suspense and comedy feels, at moments, unbalanced. At times, it swerves into the territory of the absurd. And this is when the series shines its brightest. But more often than not, it walks the middle path. Slightly silly, but with a straight face that dares you to take it seriously.
Kristen Bell feels at home in the role of Anna. She returns to her sleuthing roots like an older and more cynical Veronica Mars. The mystery at the core of the series is a strong one. With an episode runtime that averages a half hour, the 8 episode series feels brisk and the mystery is chipped away at with each episode. At times you’ll think you’ve got it all figured out, but The Woman in the House has a way of making you question what’s real… just like Anna.
The Woman in the House delivers a darkly humorous, violent mystery with twists and turns. Kristen Bell has a charisma and comedic timing that lends itself to satire so perfectly. Her performance elevates the series to another level. It will likely fly under the radar for many, but those who find it will be in for a fun few evenings of entertainment. 7/10
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