Slot

Rolanda Marais in Slot. (Photo: Supplied/kykNET)
Rolanda Marais in Slot. (Photo: Supplied/kykNET)

OUR RATING:

4/5 Stars

WHAT IT’S ABOUT:

A world-class psychiatrist believes that she has developed a therapeutic agent that reaches into deep traumas of the subconscious. When four strangers end up on a farm for treatment, extraordinary things happen.

WHAT WE THOUGHT:

When in the veld and you find yourself with a small cut on your finger, a spider’s web will stop the bleeding.

Or at least so it’s believed according to an age-old 'boereraat'. These untested home remedies are as part of Afrikaans heritage as 'melktert' recipes. Using nature’s medicinal properties and exploring herbology isn’t a foreign concept. But trust me if I tell you that there runs a thin line in the more conservative side of the culture between a soothing tea for a sore throat and a witches’ brew dabbling in the occult.

Slot, directed by Jozua Malherbe, balances effortlessly between the two extremes and dances dizzying circles around those trying to figure out if they should run scared or stay tuned. But before you can decide it’s seasoned South African star Rolanda Marais as Dr Sanet Vosloo who casts the final spell to keep you hooked until the very end.

The limited five-episode series, written by Leon Kruger, escapes the cobwebs that so many other local TV dramas get stuck in as it explores new themes and topics outside of the usual clichés. It’s great to see local TV embrace storylines that push not only the storytellers and actors out of their comfort zones, but the audience too.

Slot, the title of the show, holds two meanings in Afrikaans. The first refers to the finale or "ending", especially when used in literary terms. The second refers to a lock. I’d like to think it’s the latter that most fittingly works as a metaphor for the show. Dr Vosloo (Rolanda) is trying to unlock the subconscious of her patients to get to the root of their deepest traumas.

The drug that she has developed is the key to opening the door between their current reality and their troubled past. But not every door is meant to be unlocked as Dr Vosloo soon finds out. Omnipresent throughout the show are doors being locked, keys turning, and access denied with doors chained shut. Secrets are kept under sheets, in closets, or in thick bushes of wild shrubs that make it difficult to come and go.

The cast is completed by Greta Pietersen as Lea du Toit - a woman with a troubled past that’s been erased from her mind and that she desperately continues to suppress with alcohol. Trudy van Rooy, as Mandri Howard, portrays a woman who struggles to accept the death of her husband, instead manifesting the pain physically. Not even her yoga sessions can remove the tight grip her haunting history has on her. Albert Pretorius, as Jacques Hugo, is the burly lion with the kind heart. But everyone knows wild animals are dangerously unpredictable. Lastly, we have Brendon Daniels as Steven Titus. Steven has got a lot to hide from the first moment we see him on screen – to the very last.

All of the above might seem like more than enough reasons to tune in. But there’s one more element that ties it all together beautifully. Slot is a visual feast for the eye. Its dreamlike cinematography, isolated location, curated set design, and stunning wardrobe are woven together like the natural plant materials that make up a wicker basket ready for harvest. Everything works together in an organic harmony that seems effortless - whether it’s a flowy linen dress catching a fresh breeze in a field of yellow wildflowers, or a ghostly white sheet draped over an antique chair soaking up the afternoon sun. I loved how everything could carry both the natural elements of botany while simultaneously making room for hallucinatory fantasy.

I stopped just short of giving Slot full marks for two reasons. The first was the blink-and-you-will-miss-it climax of the show that takes place right at the end of the penultimate episode. Which leads me to my second point. As much as all the secrets come oozing out in the finale, I was still left with a handful of questions. But then again maybe they can be answered in season two?

Slot premieres Tuesday, 12 January 2021 at 20:00 on kykNET (DStv channel 144). Slot is also available on Showmax.

Slot is mostly in Afrikaans with English subtitles.

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