March 16, 2023

CABLE | Beware the Hive – 'Swarm' Stans Prime Video x SXSW 2023

"Who's your favourite artist?"
Dominique Fishback Donald Glover Janine Nabers | Swarm 2023 TV | Amazon Prime Video
SXSW Film & TV Festival
Co-creator Donald Glover, who also directs the pilot, and playwright/showrunner Janine Nabers' new half-hour psychological horror series Swarm stars Dominique Fishback as an obsessive fan of a Beyoncé-like world-famous pop superstar ("Ni'Jah") who ends up down a bloody path of murder and mayhem across the country. From there, each episode unfolds a different yet eerily impressionistic perspective on extreme toxic fandom.

We are introduced to Fishback's troubled Dre and her more well-adjusted foster sister Marissa (Chlöe Bailey) in 2016 Houston as they bond over their shared devotion to the aforementioned messianic idol as cultish members of "The Swarm", the show's titular commentary on the "BeyHive", before the former takes a dark and twisted turn after a string of dead-end jobs takes her on a violent cross-country odyssey of a road trip run amok following Ni'Jah's concert tour while racking up dead bodies along the way.

Much like Glover's Atlanta, where Nabers was also a writer/producer, there are some truly memorable, seemingly random but clearly very deliberate one-episode performances from the unconventional likes of Paris Jackson (daughter of Michael) portraying a half-Black but white-passing stripper going by the stage name "Halsey" to a blonde Billie Eilish appearing as a truly terrifying leader of a NXVIM-inspired women's empowerment sex cult.

Nabers' unhinged yet surreal conception of unhealthy celebrity obsession—not dissimilar to recently resurgent Scream films and their self-aware understanding of slasher genre fare—mines so much sharp satirical material from its vicious but measured sendup of celebrity stan culture. Fishback is superbly able to shapeshift personalities to make Dre's bloodlust psychosis and fixation all too menacingly real as evidenced by its real-world references to internet rumours and actual events teased by its intentionally provocative, Fargo-like disclaimer.

Swarm premiered at the 2023 South by Southwest Film & TV Festival (Austin, Texas) and is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.

More | YVArcade / Indiewire / Texas Monthly / Verge

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