A small town in what may be the most stereotypically "normal" Midwestern state in the US. This haven of wholesomeness is the ideal setting for the most horrible story lines, the most disturbing characters, and the most shocking outcroppings of the general social framework. So as a potential viewer, reading the synopsis of a girl escaping from a Satanic cult, one may already rhyme the rest together. This could include a reclusive community unwilling to open up towards the rest of the world, collusive authorities hiding the unacceptable occurrences within their jurisdictions, and maybe even some special interest groups trying to keep the cover on whatever they are ultimately involved with. And while all this sort of is part of the overall story, it would be utterly boring if that was all. Fortunately there is a bit more to the eight-episode miniseries Devil in Ohio.
Escape from a Bad, Bad Cult
The TV show starts out with a young girl running away from an apparently distressing situation. The fact that she's got an upside-down pentagram carved onto her back indicates the kind of traumatizing situation she left behind, and her reluctance to speak with the hospital staff intending to help her offers an impression on the severity of her situation.
The psychiatrist trying to help her gets involved with this survivor way deeper than she should be, and before soon she outmaneuvers the overexerted foster system, offering her refuge in her own family, at least temporarily. Later it is revealed that the psychiatrist herself had experienced some similar abuse in her own youth, though not precisely of occultist nature, which explains her involvement that surpasses the professional nature.
Friendships, High School, and Ultimate Disaster
Over the subsequent episodes we follow this young girl as she gradually opens up towards the doctor and her family. She gets increasingly talkative, and what starts out as a careful reluctance to associate with the other adolescents in the family eventually ends up forming friendships with them. At this point her official "case" seems to stagnate for various reasons, including a slowly working foster system and an underfunded police, confronting the County line, beyond which she escaped from. While the viewer may be caught up in the same blind compassion as the doctor, some other aspects of this girl are revealed that may shed more light on the nature of her life in the cult. After all, that is where she grew up, getting socialized according to their norms, and though she ran away from them, it's pretty obvious that she took some of it with her in her behavior.
As the series approaches its ending, problems keep piling up on each other, both related and urelated to this young escapee. Also her relationship with the other girls as well as school gets more complex, going through various issues, which on one hand get resolved, but on the other hand leave traces behind that are impossible to ignore. Eventually it becomes all too apparent that this girl should go. And she almost does... until a sudden twist comes up.
The Question of a Happy Ending
In the end, the story follows its typical arch, and a huge conflict seems to spell disaster that is unlikely to be prevented. But then it is resolved with some heroic involvement, in the way it is almost expected from these stories on the screen. This is the point when I was close to declaring the show as utter garbage, for being boringly predictable, almost to the point of cliche. However, if that the case I don't think I would have bothered writing this review. Also, interestingly by the time the great conflict had reached its conclusion, the better part of the last episode was still outstanding. What else could happen in that time?
Exactly: It turns out that nothing was resolved. In fact, the problems seemed to have just started. And those viewers who have suspected that something was just off about everything, will feel suddenly justified. Because abuse is hardly a black-and-white issue, even if the person suffering from it is a teenage girl. In other words, if you get tired of the story during the first seven episodes, it is certainly worth watching it until the end. The final revelation is most certainly worth it.
But that's all I can say about this TV series without giving away obvious spoilers. The best thing about it may actually be the complexity of issues, especially those ones that may seem so clear and simple from afar. In this regard, it may have actually been a perfect technique to set the scene of the small-town wholesomeness of the Midwest against the disturbing nature of devil worship. But take a look for yourself, if you've become interested. Here is the trailer: