Dhe “Young Adult” assembly line runs like clockwork. The latest delivery is called “Panic”, a film adaptation of the youth book of the same name by Lauren Oliver. The story is outrageously flat: high school graduates celebrate the summer with tests of courage, a game called “Panic”, and whoever wins “Panic” can break out of the desolate small town with the prize money. But how effectively flat turns out in this case: The series “Panic” from Amazon is hair-raising exciting, although it only tells of a summer after school, the summer between the old and an indefinite new existence, the parties, the kisses and tears.
And in the middle of it all is Heather (Olivia Welch), a backfish from a poor background. She’s actually way too smart to play “Panic”. The enthusiasm of her classmates, who are looking forward to the start of the competition, is completely lacking. But she is angry: The job she was hoping for for the summer falls flat, and the painfully saved up for college has Heather’s mother (Rachel Bay Jones), a drinker who, in addition to Heather, is trying to get the cute Lily (Kariana Karhu) through, allegedly for the repair used their car.
The latter is the moment when Heather and Carp, a sad provincial nest built around a water tower, despair of her fate. Anger turns into courage: We see how she storms to the nightly opening of “Panic”, finds the agreed meeting point, a steep cliff that towers over a lake and everyone present – from the charmingly underexposed Natalie (Jessica Sula) to the loud-mouthed Ray (Jack Nicholson’s son Ray) – amazed by a daring jump from the edge into the black nothing. The dramatic and of course symbolic climax of episode one.
The “panic” tradition would have had one more sacrifice if Heather had not landed in the water that night: at the last edition of the test of courage last year, a participant came blindfolded to cross a street and a participant played Russian roulette had to die. Carps police around Sheriff Jimmy Cortez (Enrique Murciano) are accordingly alarmed. It may not be the strongest troop he has gathered around him, but not even the “panic” participants know who is behind the mysterious organizers and judges of the game. Heather, Natalie, Ray and Dodge (soon to be miming the riff in Spielberg’s “West Side Story”: Mike Faist), a barista with rodeo skills who recently moved to Carp, learn about the tests of courage in “Pretty Little” just like all the other participants Liars’ manner about little puzzles.
Afterwards, however, they dutifully implement what they are ordered and rewarded with points: a wink, and they balance on a board between the towers of a silo. One order and they cross a cornfield full of animal traps. As if “Panic”, apart from the prize money, was the last, the actual school-leaving exam before being released into the brutal life out there. As if life out there was basically a lot worse than anything you have to go through here.
Meanwhile, on the soundtrack are tastefully selected indie pop songs and a slightly bontempi-organizing, retro-style synth soundtrack, for which none other than Isabella Summers, the keyboardist “Isa Machine” from Florence and the Machine, and Brian H. Kim to be responsible. Both contribute enormously to the atmosphere of the series.
The manual dexterity of the novelist Lauren Oliver, who co-produced “Panic” and wrote the screenplay, deserves praise. The characters she invented are by no means as one-dimensional as one would expect after the first encounter with the chief proletarian Ray, his rival Dodge or the bookworm Bishop (Camron Jones). Even in the storyline, which tells about the police officers, there is astonishing movement, and with an animal appearance, Oliver, who became famous in 2010 with the bestseller “If you die, your whole life will pass you by, they say”, also achieved something like an unforgettable serial moment.
Panic runs on Amazon Prime.