Review: The Kettering Incident

Elizabeth Debicki in The Kettering Incident

The Kettering Incident is an Australian series now available on Amazon Video. It’s a dark, ethereal Gothic mystery wrapped in layers of science fiction. Filmed in the small Tasmanian town of Kettering, nearby Bruny Island, and the dense forests surrounding the town, the location is beautiful, yet as eerie as the incidents.

This review is as general and spoiler free as possible.

Miranda Bennett and Maddison Brown in The Kettering Incident
Miranda Bennett as Gillian and Maddison Brown as young Anna

Elizabeth Debicki plays the lead character, Dr. Anna Macy. The series begins with her as a teen, biking up a forest road with her younger friend Gillian. They hear howling, loud humming, and strange lights appear in the forest. Gillian runs towards the lights and is never seen again.

Gillian’s disappearance is the initial mystery. It is attributed to alien abduction. Anna is suspected of murdering her. Nobody really knows.

Anna goes on to become a doctor. She’s practicing in London, but she’s plagued by blackouts, migraines and nosebleeds. She wakes up to find herself bruised and battered in places she doesn’t remember going. One day, she wakes up to find herself back in Kettering.

Many people blame Anna for Gillian’s disappearance, so she’s not given a warm welcome on her arrival. The day she arrives, Chloe (Sianoa Smit-McPhee) disappears while in Anna’s company at a party deep in the forest.

As the mystery deepens with each episode, themes of family, loyalty, friendship, grief, greed, and what it means to be human are explored.

The strange lights, the howling and humming, hoards of moths, flickering lights, double moons and other bizarre events continue to occur in Kettering. People show up with identical patterns of bites on their skin. Certain rare flowers that reproduce by cloning appear in evidence. Blood anomalies are a worry. Thick growths of moss appear almost instantly in odd places like on windowpanes. Several people come down with cancer at the same time.

The UFO rumors are a tourist attraction, but the town mostly bases its income on logging. That is threatened by an influx of greenies, who are fighting to save the old growth forest. One of the greenies, Jens (Damon Gameau) works high above the forest in a tree all day long. Like everyone else, he has a mysterious past and an uncertain agenda.

Matthew Le Nevez in The Kettering Incident
Matthew Le Nevez plays Brian Dutch

The police include Anna’s childhood friend Fergus (Henry Nixon) and Brian Dutch (Matthew Le Nevez), a newcomer to Kettering who may be a bit crooked.

Chloe’s body is eventually found in an oddly impossible place, and Dutch is put in charge of the investigation. The question is, does Dutch really want to find her killer, or is he covering up his own crimes? Fergus definitely does not trust him. Anna does.

Henry Nixon and Matthew Le Nevez in The Kettering Incident
The forest is full of tangled mystery and something radioactive

The story is deep and teems with many characters. I felt sure I knew who the killer was. In every episode. The problem is, my opinion about who that was changed in every episode. The ending is ambiguous and leaves a lot of questions open for a second season.

If anyone is listening, I hereby put in my request for another season. Hello, Showcase!

Elizabeth Debicki in The Kettering Incident
Anna in front of the Sullivan’s place, which is a key location in the mysterious happenings

The setting was absolutely perfection for this tale. The casting was perfection as well. Tall, lithe, and brilliant at the haunted look, Elizabeth Debicki couldn’t have been better chosen for Anna. In and out of fugue states as she searches for answers about her own past, about Gillian’s disappearance, and about Chloe’s murder, Debicki descends further and further into the mystery in both emotional and physical ways.

Almost the entire town is involved in the mystery before the 8 episodes in series 1 of The Kettering Incident play out. Anthony Phelan is Roy Macy, Anna’s father, and a former police officer. He’s a part owner in the land around Sullivan’s Ridge, where all the weird things are happening.

Damien Garvey is Max, Chloe’s father, the owner of the lumber mill and part owner of Sullivan’s Ridge. Sacha Horler is Barb, Chloe’s mother. She is the sister of Gillian’s mother Renae, played by Suzi Dougherty.

Tilda Cobham-Hervey plays Eliza, Chloe’s best friend. Dr. MacKenzie is played by Kris McQuade. She cared for Anna right after Gillian disappeared, and she cared for Anna’s mother who has been comatose for the last 15 years.

The story reminded me many times of Top of the Lake. Long absent local woman returns home to mysterious doings. Locals lie and hide the truth. Drug dealings from people who should be stopping drug deals. Out-of-town cop nobody trusts put in charge of a crime everyone is covering for in one way or another.

The Kettering Incident was created by  Vicki Madden and Vincent Sheehan. Wentworth, Secret City, The Principal and now The Kettering Incident. The list of Australian shows I’ve seen that I consider outstanding grows longer.

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