‘How can you possibly remember the future?’ is just one example of the creepily curious questions that pop up at regular intervals in The Devil’s Hour, a baffling yet engrossing voyage into the mysterious enigma that is déjà vu. Engrossing mainly because it is devilishly difficult to define.
On the one hand you’ve got a murder mystery where ferocious-faced prisoner Gideon (Peter Capaldi, chained to a table in the style recently made fashionable by Stanley Tucci), drops dark hints about the maze-like plot to the deeply troubled Lucy (Jessica Raine).
She wakes each night at precisely 3.33am and is haunted both by disturbing visions and dealing with her emotionally frozen eight-year old son Isaac (Benjamin Chivers, whose stare will give you shivers).
Then on one of several other hands you’ve got a psychological character study centred on Lucy’s fractured relationship with her son, a relationship that has destroyed her marriage and had a detrimental impact on her mental health, to the point where she questions her own sanity.
Lucy, well played by a believably knackered-looking Raine, is perilously close to the end of her tether.
Capaldi, whose beetling eyebrows deserve a cast credit all of their own, is used sparingly in the opening two episodes, but it’s his brief interventions that anchor The Devil’s Hour’s stealthy sense of menace.
The gloom gathers only gradually as Lucy tries to understand son Isaac’s distant nature while, in a parallel plot line, a pair of entertainingly mismatched cops (Nikesh Patel and Alex Ferns) zone in on a serial killer.
The Devil’s Hour is an ambitious mix, combining elements of the supernatural with straight-ahead crime while bringing to mind all kinds of spooky-kid stories, from The Omen to The Sixth Sense.
There are times when the story suffers from keeping so many plates spinning at the same time.
But I hadn’t quite seen its like before, which, in a story about déjà vu, is saying something.
Streaming now on Amazon Prime Video