Review: Amazon Prime's 'Panic' offers standard teens-in-peril fare

"Panic," streaming on Amazon Prime Video, revolves around a group of Texas teens participating in a series of dangerous dares.

Tom Long
Special to The Detroit News

“Panic” is painfully predictable.

In each episode teens attempt some dangerous stunt. Then something goes wrong. Which leads to a cliff-hanger. Then along comes the next episode and nobody’s fallen off the cliff (yet). Repeat. Repeat.

Olivia Welch in "Panic."

True, there may be some mindless comfort in bingeing such fare. The buzz comes from reliable repetition. And summer is traditionally the time to turn off your brain. “Panic” is for those who’ve disengaged.

And within its confines there are some young actors doing good work. There are also line readings so wrong it’s hard to believe any director said, “Yeah, good, let’s go with that.” 

Welcome to Carp, Texas, a go-nowhere small town that seems like a death sentence to some young inhabitants. So every year its high school students raise money for a competition among graduating seniors. They will endure a series of dangerous dares. The one who wins the most receives enough money to leave town.

If they live that is. Russian roulette, walking blindfolded across a busy highway, crossing a rickety plank high in the sky are among the challenges. Competitors die. Somehow the local police can’t figure out how to stop the game, though.

Reluctantly competing this year is Heather (fresh-faced Olivia Welch), a trailer park kid whose mother has stolen the money she saved for college. Her competition includes some besties, some frenemies, a lot of bit players. Standard teen roles like The New Kid in Town and The Wounded Bully (Mike Faist and Ray Nicholson, both quite good) are inevitably included.

Much standard teen drama — romances, secrets, betrayals, sexual confusion — is mixed in between the competitions, and there’s the building mystery of who’s behind the game. But really, this show is about waiting for some teenager to fall to their death or something gruesomely similar. If that sounds worth your time, have at it.

Tom Long is a longtime contributor to The Detroit News. 



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