The Horror of Dolores Roach”: A Darkly Funny Descent into Cannibalistic Madness


Cannibalism appears to be experiencing a surge in popularity within various forms of entertainment, with productions such as “Yellowjackets,” “Dahmer,” and “Bones and All” tackling this ultimate taboo. Joining this trend is “The Horror of Dolores Roach,” a Prime Video series that explores the fear of people consuming people. While the theme may be current, the concept itself is as old as time.

The brainchild of creator Aaron Mark, “Dolores Roach” has been in development for a decade, transitioning from a play to a podcast and now an eight-part series. The show features the formidable Justina Machado in the role of the titular character, Dolores Roach, and Alejandro Hernandez as Luis Batista, an unlikely benefactor. The series takes its time to establish the characters and their surroundings, immersing viewers in the present-day Washington Heights, a predominantly Latino neighborhood grappling with gentrification.

Dolores, fresh out of a 16-year prison sentence for drug-related charges and assaulting an officer, yearns for familiarity upon her return to her old neighborhood. Luis, who has inherited his father’s empanada shop, provides her with a place to stay and an eerie yet useful devotion. Initially striving to do what’s right, Dolores’s first murder carries weight due to the meticulous character development and world-building. Each subsequent murder is imbued with significance, and while it is clear from the beginning that she will become a notorious serial killer, the early episodes present alternative paths she could have chosen and the challenges they would have entailed.

The Horror of Dolores Roach": A Darkly Funny Descent into Cannibalistic Madness

As Dolores’s body count rises, the show takes off, blending humor and grisly scenes in escalating fashion. The series cleverly withholds the graphic details of Luis’s methods for disposing of the victims in the initial episodes. However, when the truth is finally revealed, the visceral impact is as repugnant as one can imagine, if not worse. This escalation sets the stage for a climactic finale, where Dolores spirals into madness, wreaking havoc and embracing her violent destiny. Justina Machado shines in this role, skillfully transitioning between a willfully ignorant girlfriend and a violence-addicted mistress of her own fate.

“The Horror of Dolores Roach” is undoubtedly dark, spending a significant amount of time in a basement, but it balances its darkness with humor, largely facilitated by Machado’s physical comedy. Alejandro Hernandez contributes to the atmosphere with his simmering nervous energy, on the brink of eruption. The ensemble cast also delivers strong performances, with Jean Yoon as the delightfully annoying neighbor Joy, Judy Reyes as the block matriarch Marcie, Ilan Eskenazi as the clueless landlord Jonah, and Kita Updike as Nellie, representing the Gen Z generation’s mannerisms, realities, and frustrations.

The show’s most captivating aspect lies in the anticipation of how far these characters will go, as they defy common sense and decency. Dolores and Luis are paradoxical figures, simultaneously funny, charming, and dangerous. They resemble people you may know until they cross a line. The underlying sense that they teeter on the edge of embracing their cannibalistic tendencies is undeniably provocative. “The Horror of Dolores Roach” thrives on blurring the line between normality and extremity, challenging the audience to simultaneously root for and against the show’s leads. With its playful approach to a serial killer narrative, the series successfully creates tension without taking itself too seriously.

“The Horror of Dolores Roach” premiered today on Prime Video, offering viewers a darkly funny and thrilling exploration of cannibalistic madness.

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