By Sara Ashton
Contains spoilers for episodes 1-4.
Mystery, murder and mayhem – Just 3 words to describe the latest show to arrive on streaming platform Paramount+.
The show follows Maddie Nears as she wakes to find herself… Dead. Ironic, I know. Not her best day!
So, she sets to find out what happened to her as she has no recollections of why she no longer has a pulse and is unable to leave the school grounds where she met her untimely end.
The first 4 episodes have been a haunt (in the best way) as we have been taken on a journey and been witness to several possible scandals and intrigue.
There are many characters in this show who you could point the accusatory finger at, but truth being your opinion can change with every new episode as new things come to light with these dynamic, and sometimes shady characters.
Peyton List is a standout in her role as Maddie providing some melancholic, emotional moments as she pursues her journey for truth. List tackles this role with her dynamic acting skills.
Humour is sprinkled throughout with her newfound dead friend group who somehow resemble The Breakfast Club. These spirits of others who have had the misfortune of dying in the school or on the grounds and are just waiting to pass over. There is only so many graduations one person can take, right?
The spirits have their uses and there are many of them who are attempting to comfort Maddie in her journey of finding the truth. Nick Pugliese has a standout role as Charley. Just a kid who died too soon. His kind aura is one that is appreciated by Maddie and his scenes are always ones certain to move. Milo Manheim adds a dash of humour as jock Wally Clark who seems to be having the time of his life lounging about the school as he explores the afterlife to his full potential.
The first two episodes begin quite slow as they set the groundwork, establishing the characters dead and alive and highlighting possible person of interest as the mystery begins to kick in.
In terms of the living… Maddie’s best friend, Simon plays a great part. Kristian Flores plays with grief and emotion as he lashes out, particularly in episode 3. Frustration bubbles on the surface as he longs to find out the truth of what happened to his best friend. Call him the Sherlock Holmes of Split River High as he gets himself into sticky situations in hopes of uncovering the truth, no matter how bad the outcome might be.
There is no dull moment as there are arrests, and even car crashes as we explore the high school, their students and teachers in more depth as the series continues. Episode 4 leaves us with the question, what is up with Mr Anderson? If there’s a shady teacher when I see one – he seems so sketchy, almost seemingly having something to do with Maddie’s disappearance. He seems nice on the surface, but it is becoming increasingly evident he has been hiding something, specifically when he declines the sniffer dog entering his classroom. (Shady, right?) – And why did he call Claire?
This mystery keeps unravelling as the characters are being further explored, making them more likeable for the viewers.
With each new episode, the question still lingers… What exactly happened to Maddie Nears?
If the rest of the season continues with the same levels of acting, writing and suspense – we are surely in for a treat!
New episodes of School Spirits are available on Paramount+ every Thursday.