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Michelle Alexander breaks ground in creepy homegrown Darknet

Halloween may be over, but that doesn’t mean the scares need to end. Thanks to Netflix, there are numerous spooky series available all year long. And while there are the requisite flicks featuring chainsaw-wielding killers, frightening dolls and slithery things in closets, nothing is quite like Darknet.

Based on the Japanese horror series Tori Hada, Darknet is a Canadian anthology series airing its second window via the online broadcaster (it was available on Super Channel first). The project, made up of six intertwining half-hour stories, explores serial killers and axe murderers, but it also tips the horror genre on its head by offering unique views on society’s paranoia and some surprise character reveals. One gal, for instance, appears to be a mousy, quiet office worker but is anything but, and a medical student named Alison defends her privacy in a very unique way.

“I kept saying to the writers, ‘This is such a gift,'” Michelle Alexander says of her character, Alison. “One of the producers, Steven Hoban, and I were saying that we can’t think of a character in modern TV that has a big a swing from a the beginning of the series to the end. I’m usually cast as the first girl you meet, the girl who is sweet and lovely.”

The Vancouver Island native, who also works as Associate Artistic Director at Toronto’s Nightwood Theatre, assumed she was done playing Alison after filming the pilot episode. She was surprised to be called back after Alison was written into two more vignettes, including the season finale, a twisted trip that leaves a trio of characters in a cliffhanger ending.

Season 1 of Darknet was written by six different writers (each one wrote an instalment each) and six different directors–the result is unique take with regard to story and imagery–starring veteran and new faces from the Canadian television and film industry. Among those appearing in the scary tales are David Hewlett (Stargate: Atlantis), Ari Miller (Orphan Black), Martha Burns (Slings & Arrows), Peter Outerbridge (Orphan Black), Cara Gee (Strange Empire) and Arnold Pinnock (Combat Hospital). All embody characters counter to roles they’ve played in the past: Hewlett is a businessman who finds a mysterious locker key; Burns a mother seeking a babysitter for her unique son; and Pinnock portrays a seemingly loving husband who runs afoul of Alison.

“The problem with a lot of modern horror now is that you kind of get the formula. It’s so popular with young people right now that you just kind of pump out this formulaic horror shows,” Alexander explains. “This is more like a throwback to Alfred Hitchcock horror where there are twists and turns. Even if you’re looking for the twists, it’s better than just the shock and awe. Darknet is more character-driven and story-driven.”

Season 1 of Darknet is available on Netflix Canada.

Greg David
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Greg David

Prior to becoming a television critic and partner at TV, Eh?, Greg David was a critic for TV Guide Canada, the country's most trusted source for TV news. He has interviewed television actors, actresses and behind-the-scenes folks from countless programs. Survivor winners, Donald Trump, Jerry Bruckheimer ... he has interviewed (literally) hundreds of TV people over the course of his career. He is a past member of the Television Critics Association.
Greg David
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