Based on a young adult novel originally published on the online serialized fiction service Wattpad, Hulu’s teen horror series Light as a Feather (premiering October 12) unfolds in similar bite-size installments, with episodes that run only about 23 minutes each. Despite the short running times, though, each episode feels nearly twice as long, with labored, heavily telegraphed plot twists, annoying, self-absorbed characters, and hokey, awkward dialogue. Created by former The Lying Game and One Tree Hill writer-producer R. Lee Fleming Jr. (working from the first in Zoe Aarsen’s series of novels), the show combines sub-Freeform high school drama with cheap jump scares and generic supernatural menace.
Liana Liberato stars as McKenna, a popular girl at her idyllic suburban high school, where she spends all of her time with her best friends Olivia (Peyton List), Candace (Ajiona Alexus) and Alex (Brianne Tju). Their lives seem perfect on the surface, but of course each girl has her own secrets and struggles, all of which will eventually be exploited by creepy new kid Violet (Haley Ramm). Violet seems shy and uncomfortable at first, and so McKenna convinces her friends to let Violet join them in their traditional Halloween get-together at a local cemetery.
Violet, in turn, convinces the girls to play a variation on the traditional slumber party game “light as a feather, stiff as a board,” in which one person lies on their back and is lifted by the others with just their fingertips. Violet insists that before each girl is lifted, Violet will tell a story about how that girl will die, predicting deaths by car accident, choking, and drowning for three of the friends. Will these eerie premonitions come true? Is Violet just misunderstood, or does she have dangerous, evil powers?
The show doesn’t waste much time with ambiguity, and once one of the girls dies in exactly the manner predicted, there’s never a question that Violet is behind it all. Although there are twists and turns in the plot over the course of the first six episodes (out of 10 total), Violet is singled out as the villain early on, and she’s so blatantly scheming and manipulating the rather naïve main characters that there’s no reason to care about what happens to her or what her motivations might be. The camera is constantly capturing Ramm giving devious looks to no one in particular, just in case the audience has forgotten in the last few minutes that Violet has sinister intentions.