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SDCC 2020

SDCC ’20: ‘Helstrom’ is a haunting family story in the MCU

The showrunner and cast discuss Helstrom, the MCU’s first foray into the horror genre.

AIPT looked forward to Friday afternoon, when Hulu held a panel at Comic-Con@Home to give fans their first look at the Marvel horror series, Helstrom, as well as a chance to hear from the cast and creatives about the show. On the panel were Paul Zbyszewski (showrunner), Tom Austen (Daimon Helstrom), Sydney Lemmon (Ana Helstrom), Elizabeth Marvel (Victoria Helstrom), Robert Wisdom (Caretaker), Ariana Guerra (Gabriella Rosetti), June Carryl (Dr. Louise Hastings), and Alain Uy (Chris Yen). Zbyszewski, Carryl, Wisdom, and Guerra took some moments early on to address their feelings and concerns about current events and encouraged viewers to take action if they’re unhappy.

Zbyszewski described Helstrom as an original family story with a brother, sister, and mother. It is based off of the “Son of Satan” storyline from the comics but was more grounded in the real world. He wanted to explore the extended family one is born in and the found family that’s created later. It looks at nature vs. nurture and sees what aspects are inherited and which are a product of environment. The showrunner wanted to look at personal demons and how people relate to each other.

Austen discussed the sibling relationship. Though they are close, they are also the furthest apart after they’ve built new families and their own lives. The audience will see how they operate in their own worlds and when they try to meet each other again as adults and victims of childhood trauma. In the time apart, they’ve managed their experiences in different ways.

Lemmon added that both are plagued by history and what they had to overcome and have responded to all the trauma in different ways. But ultimately, they are searching for the same thing – safety, love and understanding. Their differing approaches leads to tension. They are also different from everyone because they have the distinct powers of energy manipulation.

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Marvel approached her maternal role with the lens of addiction. Her character is someone who loves her children but is overtaken by something beyond her control and this separates her from the family and drives her to do other things. Daimon and Ana don’t know who they’re really dealing with. Despite the serious tone, the comic aspect provides a playful, wild, and funny world for the characters to inhabit.

Caretaker is a reinvented version from the comics. Wisdom cryptically shared that his character has some new elements in his life and with these women they form a powerful triangle. Guerra’s Gabriella works with Daimon and they have a complicated relationship. She’s more logical and religious with her insight. However, the two have the same goals and Gabriella gains more empathy towards her coworker as the season progresses.

Dr. Hastings is a maternal figure because she inherits a young Daimon even though at that point in her life she isn’t prepared. Though she can be shocked by his actions, she makes an effort to understand him and provides a combination of tough love and caring support while raising him. On the other hand, Chris is someone Ana connects with while in foster care. The trauma they’ve experienced helps them bond and there’s a trust between the two.

When it comes down to it, all the characters have their own moral compass based off of their lives and cultural and religious influences. This results in different levels of morality and who’s lines are being crossed. Helstrom will premiere on Hulu this October 16. In addition to an engaging story, the show will be laced with Easter eggs in the sets and props and the second half promises to have some surprising twists.

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