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SYFY WIRE Helstrom

Hulu's Helstrom NYCC panel reveals how the Marvel show pays homage to classic horror

By Justin Carter
Helstrom (Hulu)

To kick off the New York Comic-Con Metaverse panel for Helstrom, Hulu decided to show just the first 10 minutes of the spooky Marvel series.

Fittingly for a show premiering in October, the horror series is about two kids, Daimon and Ana Helstrom, whose father is the literal devil.

As you can see in the panel video below, some moments in those 10 minutes feel similar to other horror movies, and showrunner Paul Zbyszewski revealed that it was all part of the plan. In his words, the show’s crew “did their homework” and studied horror movies while creating the 10-episode season.

“They love the genre,” he gushed, “and they visually brought something awesome to the show.” 

The horror influences apparently ran deep, even beyond the directors. Elizabeth Marvel, playing the Helstrom matriarch Victoria, likened her performance to giving homages to different films throughout the various episodes. She even doled out some easter eggs for horror fans, from the The Shining (she joked about getting the chance to channel both parents in that film) to Isabella Adjani in Possession.

In the Marvel comics that Helstrom is based on, Daimon and Ana’s upbringing has understandably made both their lives difficult. Though we don’t see Ana (Sydney Lemmon) in the preview, Daimon (Tom Austen) is serving as a priest who occasionally dabbles in exorcisms.

“He sees the world in quite a cynical way,” Austen noted, even as he’s doing his best to try and help people. “It feels like everything in the world is against him trying to do that ... it doesn’t leave a lot of room for all the crap that comes with it.”

Similarly, Lemmon considers Ana just as damaged and in need of a wakeup call as her brother. “She’s had a really intense childhood,” Lemmon said. “For whatever reason, Daimon is the one chasing the tenderness between them.” There’s a softness in Ana’s core, according to Lemmon, but seeing it may be a journey unto itself.

Like any horror story involving a family, Helstrom wants to find the heart and family drama within its spooky story. “It’s the nature-versus-nurture argument,” Zbyszewski notes. “How much of us is our environment and how we were raised?”

As the pair learn more about their family history and come together to save the world, they’ll also have to contend with the shared trauma that they’ve been keen on avoiding. “It’s the baggage they carry, and honestly, it’s the baggage we all carry. Some of us are luckier than others,” Zbyszewski said.

Hulu’s Helstrom premieres all its episodes next Friday, Oct. 16.

Click here for SYFY WIRE's full coverage of New York Comic Con Metaverse 2020.