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‘Dark City: The Cleaner’ – Review

‘Dark City: The Cleaner’ – Review


There’s nothing better than an excellent noir-drenched crime watch to sink your teeth into. Now, SKY Originals is looking to reshape the landscape for Kiwi television with its adaptation of author Paul Cleeve’s cult crime novel, The Cleaner. The result is a shockingly original production that will have you hooked into a dangerous, dark, and hilariously intense new watch in Dark City: The Cleaner.

By day, Joe is a cleaner at the police station. But by night, he has another line of work – he’s a serial killer who’s been dubbed The Christchurch Carver. When another woman is murdered, the police suspect The Carver, but Joe knows it wasn’t him.

As an author, Paul Cleave has reshaped the New Zealand literature space by bringing in a quirky and dark approach to the crime genre in a market that previously lacked it. And the results have been astounding. His novels run at a fast pace with even quicker dialogue and unique characters, and now they’re about to get the small screen treatment in Dark City: The Cleaner. Cleave, who adapts his own novel and works alongside filmmaker Rick Jacobson, is ready to upend the NZ television scene with a radically different series from anything that has come before it. And you’re not ready for the twists and thrills in Dark City: The Cleaner.

Stepping into the shoes of our affable protagonist, Joe Middleton is Cohen Holloway, and right from the start, he begins to talk to us with Joe’s cheery inner monologue. You see, Joe’s just a regular guy with a steady job as a cleaner with the Christchurch Police and who is looking for the right woman. Of course, he’s having to go through a fair few of them to find ‘Mrs Right’, but he’s not letting that stop him. Oh, and by the way, Joe happens to be a serial killer! Dubbed the Christchurch Carver, he’s been terrorizing the streets of Christchurch for the last two years, and his whole life is wrapped around his particular set of urges. Holloway fits the mould of the character, from his somewhat off-putting normality to his feigned ‘happy-go-lucky’ charm. His performance invests you in the character, and you have no idea what he will do next, scene by scene.

With his most recent kill notched up, Joe is a happy camper, but unexpectedly, another body turns up, and the Christchurch Carver is blamed. There’s just one problem: Joe didn’t do it, and now spanners have been thrown in the works, and he’s none too pleased. Cleave and Jacobsen have a good handle on pulling their audiences down sudden left turns, and the twists are pretty fast in Dark City: The Cleaner and Holloway’s Joe is in for a whole heap of trouble that he never bargained on.

While Joe is a character who thinks he’s got it all figured out, this soon changes when he runs into the chipper and dotty Melissa Flowers, a journalist who is more than happy to flirt with him. In contrast, Joe might think he could add another mark to the scoreboard. Melissa quickly turns the tables on our protagonist, and it is clear that Joe isn’t the most dangerous character in this city. It’s a sudden turn that flips Melissa from a sweet ingenue to a totally insane psycho, and all of it is made possible through the talent of actress Chelsie Florence, who is a complete scene stealer in every sense of the word. Florence’s performance is pure Id, and she’s ready to turn the heat up under Joe and burn him pretty severely. It’s here where Dark City: The Cleaner takes one hell of a sudden whirl.

Dark City: The Cleaner is a new, addicting watch, and we are only at the start of its twisted narrative. It’s a series that takes risks and seeks to push the envelope while showcasing the range and gravitas of some top New Zealand talent. You’ll be hooked with this scary, funny, and radically different new series that will take the New Zealand television industry in a new direction.

Dark City: The Cleaner streams on SKY TV’s SOHO and NEON.

Image: NEON