Stay Close is a British mini-series on Netflix that follows the lives of a suburban mother, a detective and a photographer whose lives become intertwined when a person goes missing. The series is based on a novel of the same name written by Harlan Coben.
Megan Pierce (Cush Jumbo) is the mother of three children and fiance to Dave Shaw(Daniel Francis). She lives a pretty normal suburban life that is thrown into chaos when a visitor from her past appears out of nowhere. Lorraine Griggs (Sarah Parish) shows up to warn Megan that a dangerous individual from her past as an exotic dancer has resurfaced.
Around the same time, a man named Carlton Flynn (Connor Calland) goes missing after carnival night leading to an investigation that brings in DS Michael Broome (James Nesbitt). He and his partner follow the leads which take them down a terrifying path with evidence of a serial killer operating in the area.
Ray Levine (Richard Armitage) is a photographer and also Megan’s ex-boyfriend from her past who has issues with blackouts. He happens to take some photos of Carlton Flynn’s final moments which make him a key component in this case and also brings him back into Megan’s life.
With all of these things happening simultaneously, Megan’s past and present begin to collide with her family dealing with the effects of these new developments. Her eldest daughter, Kayleigh (Bethany Antonia) begins to question her mother’s past while Dave gets a visit from Ray during his stag night which even leads to an altercation.
Meanwhile, Carlton’s father, Del Flynn (Ross Boatman) has hired a strange yet murderous couple to find his son’s whereabouts using any means necessary. The two of them complicate the investigation with their own horrifying approach to extracting information.
All these twists and turns lead to the discovery of several bodies and the true identity of the killer who has been murdering abusive men for many years and bringing some closure to so many involved in the case.
Cush Jumbo performs her lead role with a cool distinction as the run of the mill domestic mother with a shady past behind her. The moments of fear and desperation that she has to go through come across so well only because of her immense talent.
James Nesbitt plays the grumpy detective whose main focus is the case, but he does have a softer side to him that comes out every so often. This particular character is quite commonly seen and while Nesbitt does not really make it unique, he does a good job of standing out in the series.
Richard Armitage as Ray the photographer is mostly seen as a man struggling with his past. The fact that he never got over Megan who was the love of his life and left so suddenly is showcased quite well in his performance. His gravelly voice adds an intensity whenever he delivered his lines.
Hyoie O’Grady and Poppy Gilbert as ‘Ken’ and ‘Barbie’ are especially spine-tingling as the hired guns who have a proclivity for musicals and often get into song at the oddest moments. They are truly bone-chilling at times and turn up the creepy factor right up to eleven when they are on screen.
Sarah Parish, Daniel Francis, Bethany Antonia, Jo Joyner and Youssef Kerkour all do a wonderful job as the supporting cast, driving the story forward and contributing their own bit to the plot.
With one of the main characters playing a photographer, one would expect a lot of focus on staging and choosing the frame and that is quite evident in this series.
This cinematography is exquisite, capturing the raw atmosphere of the British countryside very well.
David Buckley and Luke Richards do a phenomenal job with the soundtrack of the series. Some of their composition really raise the intensity of several set pieces and heighten the drama to keep the audience constantly on the edge of their seat.
The story is written well with various paths the characters take all converging into one final reveal that wraps up the whole thing in a neat little bow.
While several characters are hinted at as the final killer, the actual truth really takes you by surprise which is a huge compliment.
The pacing of the series is absolutely excruciating as it moves along at a snail’s pace which is often attributed to British television. While the multiple plot lines weave their way around trying to stay ahead of the viewers, it still feels like they take forever to reach the final climax.
‘Stay Close’ is also not as gripping or thrilling as some other recently released thrillers out there. It feels quite familiar as it uses severe clichés and plot directives from a whole lot of similar content tropes.
Stay Close is a fun thriller mini-series that does require some real concentration but the story proves to be totally worth your time, even if it feels like the time you spend is longer than it actually is. Coupled with the magnificent sound and cinematography and this is one mystery that stands up to most of its scrutiny.