NOTE: Here is my review from Soda & Telepaths that was posted back on April 1st, 2020.
In 2015, IDW Publishing released the first volume of The October Faction, a series that revolved around retired monster-hunter Frederick Allen and his family. Netflix, always hungry for content, scooped up the rights for this comic and decided to make it into a Netflix original series… a series that they dropped on the 23rd of January and I suspect you heard nothing else about it because it didn’t catch anyone’s attention. Turns out there’s a reason for that… It’s genuinely one of the worst shows on Netflix.
October Faction might use the names and iconography from the comics, including the main characters of Fred Allen (J.C. MacKenzie), Deloris Allen (Tamara Taylor), Viv Allen (Aurora Burghart) and Geoff Allen (Gabriel Darku) but it has no charm of any kind. It starts out with an interesting idea where Fred and Deloris are monster hunters for a group known as Presidio but their kids don’t know about it. That’s interesting, it gives us a chance to have adults fighting demons while the kids try to handle a new high school… that lasts 4 episodes, then the kids know and spend the rest of the season bitching about being lied to because that’s what passes for a character in this series.
Referring to Fred and Deloris as ‘adults’ is probably a bit of a stretch since the characters are written like they’re teenagers, but teenagers as written by 40-50-year-old men who have never met a teenager. They throw out bad jokes and pop culture references that are so random that even Joss Whedon at his worst wouldn’t dare try them. They also say fuck a lot in ways that make me wonder if someone just threw darts at the script and inserted the word ‘fuck’ everywhere they hit. It’s writing that tries so hard to appeal to the youths that you are waiting for Steve Buscemi to walk on screen and say hello to his fellow kids.
The actual kids are even worse off as they just flat out do not have characters to work with. They have a checklist of things that have been done in better shows but they don’t have characters. Hell, October Faction has a rich girl who is secretly actually poor and a closeted jock in love with someone who he picked on… I saw both of those characters in Glee and Glee did them better. I should be able to praise October Faction for having gay characters or a diverse cast, genuine positives that make the show stand out amongst its peers but I really can’t because it does nothing of value with them.
Add on top of this that none of the actors is really trying, with performances ranged from wooden to hammy with no in-between. This kind of acting would’ve been obviously painful and bad back in a cheap 1990s Buffy ripoff but October Faction is a 2020 Netflix Original and I would like some decent acting in it at some point. As it was, I barely believed anyone cared about anything, to the point where characters died and I had to yell “REACT!” because no one seemed to notice the urgency.
This lack of interest in the performances hampers any chance for an emotional reaction in the audience. Episode 10 opens with a major character death, it’s meant to be an important moment that effects the entire finale… I had to rewind the episode when I finished just so I could see who died because I forgot they were even part of the show. I didn’t care, it was impossible to give a damn at any point throughout the story so when I needed to care the most there wasn’t a single fuck left to give.
The general arc of October Faction is about the battle between Presidio and a bunch of supernatural creatures and we’re meant to sympathize with the supernatural creatures because Presidio might’ve accidentally done a little bit of genocide… except it’s handled so poorly that you only really pick up on that being the overarching plot at around the episode 7 mark, before then there’s been no attempt at nuance. This isn’t just a stupid twist, it’s a sharp left turn directly into a tree. October Faction had almost no momentum before but the last three episodes become a slog to sit through.
On top of just having a bad story, October Faction has some of the worst visuals I’ve seen. They regularly do flashbacks to past events and when they show those flashbacks it’s usually in monochrome (there is no consistency, consistency is for people who give a damn) and a lot of the time the monochrome colour is yellow… for large amounts of time you are told that the past looks like the artwork Piss Christ by Andres Serrano, or occasionally the past will be blue or just a muted tone.
None of it looks good, to the point that they do a montage in one of the later episodes that juxtaposes the Piss Christ past and the blue past and the muted tone past and it lays bare how bad it all looks. Then there’s just the generally awful visual effects, including CGI overlay blood that moves with the camera or a slow-motion effect that’s laughably awful. When I can honestly say that Season 1 of Buffy has better effects work, you messed up big time.
October Faction is just shockingly bad. I haven’t even scratched the surface of everything wrong with it, every new scene reveals some other bad decision or line of dialogue that leaves me scratching my head while I wonder why anyone approved this. It’s not even so bad that it’s funny, it’s just tiresome. I’m exhausted just thinking about it, though luckily it’s so bland that I probably won’t be thinking about it for much longer.