La Mante is out on Netflix now and the horror thriller series has plenty going for it. Unfortunately, it also has a few things that ruined it for me. *Spoilers*
Yes, this review of La Mante (which is French for “The Mantis”) does contain spoilers. We don’t normally do spoilers here at Heaven of Horror, but in order to explain our relatively low score for the French series, it feels necessary.
We tend to love French horror and thriller movies such as Haute Tension, so when La Mante was released on Netflix, it immediately caught our eye. A French series about a serial killer helping the police to catch her own copycat? Oh yeah, we’re there!
However, we do have a lot of movies and shows on our list already, so we weren’t rushing to watch it. Not until Stephen King mentioned it on Twitter. He didn’t talk about the story in any way – good or bad. Instead, he mentioned one particular scene where someone is drowned in an industrial sized washing machine.
That made us prioritize it and we watched the 6 episodes in one sitting. But not without rolling our eyes and being very vocal about its (serious!) issues.
You can watch the trailer for La Mante – Season 1 right here or continue reading our review below.
Manon Azem saved the day
While the lead character, Damien, is portrayed by Fred Testot, he isn’t the most interesting part about La Mante. In fact, he’s pretty annoying and not very likable at all.
Instead, the heart of the mini-series is his wife, Lucie, played by Manon Azem. She is tough, but vulnerable and tries her damnedest to make him open up. Not in any invasive or annoying way, but rather by being there when he needs her.
Damien is the son of serial killer, Jeanne, who was (or is, I suppose) “La Mante”. She’s in prison and offers to help the police if her son – who is also a cop – can be her contact. Jeanne is played rather brilliantly by Carole Bouquet.
In fact, it’s only in scenes with either Manon Azem or Carole Bouquet that Fred Testot’s Damien becomes interesting.
Fortunately, there are lots of other interesting characters. Including everyone we’re supposed to think is the copycat. And yes, there is almost a new suspect in every one of the six episodes.
When you get halfway through season 1, you pretty much already know that the person they’re chasing now isn’t the serial killer. Obviously, they’re saving that for the very last episode.
You cannot be serious with this plot!
While we had guessed two of the possible identifiers for the copycat La Mante serial killer, we only jokingly combined them.
Throughout the episodes of the mini-series, we learn that the copycat knows a lot about Damien. The easy conclusion is that the copycat is someone he knows and trust. This is correct.
When they start talking about a suspect being a very strong and athletic woman, it was a very obvious hint that this suspect was transgender.
La Mante SPOILERS
When you combine those two, you get someone close to Damien (and his wife), who is in fact, transgender. And yes, the copycat serial killer is a transgender woman who kills men when they reject her due to a botched gender reassignment surgery.
Are you fucking kidding me? Transgender women are killed all the time by men. Those are cold, hard, and quite frankly awful facts! But in this “modern” story, you go with the age-old (and dangerous) trope that transgender women are crazy psychopath killers?
Because yes, this very likable and happy character (our favorite character along with Lucie) does, in fact, turn full Fatal Attraction crazy (towards everyone), when she is “revealed” as the copycat.
And the entire episode leading up to this is one crazy experience of the various characters switching between calling the person “he” and “she”. They have only known the person as a woman, so why they would suddenly refer to her as “him” is both ridiculous and offensive in so many ways!
La Mante is on Netflix now
There are many other silly elements throughout the La Mante mini-series, which made me dislike it from the very first episode. One example is the fact that a police officer has a strobe flashlight in her jeans pocket. She’s not in uniform and is working at her desk, so there’s no reason she should be carrying it around – in her back pocket. But when they watch someone use a strobe flashlight in a surveillance tape, it sure does come in handy.
However, I must admit that there were also lots of fascinating characters and some interesting plot twists. Yes, even those obvious red herrings. Though the very final plot reveal is actually very good.
Still, making the serial killer a psychotic transgender woman in a world where transgender women are killed on a weekly (at least) basis. That’s the opposite of new and innovative. And it’s a dangerous message that directly impacts transgender lives. Shame on you!
Also, the washing machine as a murder weapon is far from the most interesting murder attempt. In fact, it’s pretty sloppy because the victim should have been discovered.
Look, if you can live with a pretty irritating lead and a terrible transgender storyline, then you should enjoy the great supporting characters and overall mystery.
La Mante is out on Netflix in most countries now!
Director: Alexandre Laurent
Writers: Alice Chegaray-Breugnot, Grégoire Demaison, Nicolas Jean, Laurent Vivier
Cast: Carole Bouquet, Fred Testot, Pascal Demolon, Manon Azem, Frédérique Bel, Élodie Navarre, Jacques Weber
Decades after her capture, a serial killer offers to help solve a string of copycat murders — but only if her son, now a cop, will work by her side. To the world — and her son — she’s a monster. But she may be the only one who can unravel a gruesome new crime spree.