'From' on Paramount+: Exceptional horror series examines humans 'pushed to their edge'

Eion Bailey, a star in the underrated and thrilling series, applauds the show for telling a horror story from the "psychological perspective" first

By our estimation, the horror/drama series From (streaming on Paramount+ in Canada, MGM+ in the U.S.), is among the most underrated shows to watch right now, with Lost star Harold Perrineau, alongside Eion Bailey, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Scott McCord and Elizabeth Saunders in a talented ensemble cast.

If you're still unfamiliar with the show, From, created by John Griffin and filmed in Nova Scotia, is set in a mysterious town that traps anyone who enters. Residents of this town are trying to find their way out, but also attempting to survive the place, surrounded by a forest with creatures that come out and terrorize them at night.

In Season 2 of From, with the finale set for release June 25, more continues to be revealed about the history of this town and what's trapping these people inside of it. There's also a group of new characters that enter, which adds to the chaos.

While the show is mysterious and even terrifying at times, there's such a strong focus on the humans in the story and, to put it simply, people figuring out how to deal with their circumstances.

In the first half of the 10-episode season, From also achieves what we really wanted from a Season 2 of the show. The storytelling is more nuanced and twisted, and the situation is more unnerving as the story continues.

“In the first season, people have ideas about what this place, this world, this nightmarish trap we find ourselves in [is],” Bailey, who plays Jim Matthews, told Yahoo Canada. “Jim goes on this path of questioning as a way to find out not just how to escape, because that was his original plan, … but then he realizes he's got to figure out what this place even is, before you can figure out how to escape it.”

“He takes a different track than most of the rest of the people in the town who accept the narrative that already exists, and he starts to wonder, maybe none of that's true. Maybe this is something else entirely. There's a real divergence from what everyone else is thinking. There are theories about conspiracies and he is ready and willing to question everything.”

Eion Bailey as Jim Matthews in From Season 1, on Paramount+ in Canada (Chris Reardon/MGM+)
Eion Bailey as Jim Matthews in From Season 1, on Paramount+ in Canada (Chris Reardon/MGM+)

At the outset of the series, we see that Jim has a physical limitation. He gets hurt, which limits him for much of the second season. Bailey himself explained that he had an experience previously where he broke his collarbone while filming a movie, which made sudden movements painful. That's something the actor tapped into for Jim this season.

“It makes it so the actor's body can't make unconscious movements that are sometimes tics or uncomfortable dispelling of energy, and makes one still," Bailey said. “People have their physical prowess and that brings something into a room, whenever you enter it. ... When you don't have that, ... you have to rely on other things entirely."

"That's a challenge and an interesting thing to see, how you have to relate to people differently. If someone's pushed up against the wall, you can't get back in someone's face and challenge them physically. You have to go a different route entirely, and appeal to people's better nature or challenge them intellectually, and get them to see things a different way.”

Reflecting on his time on set filming the series, Bailey described it was a very collaborative environment, coming from the top down with From's showrunner and the show's co-executive producers.

“They said from the beginning, there is no bad idea, please bring it to us and we'll consider it, and if it works we'll go with it,” Bailey explained. “That goes also for lines of dialogue. If you feel like you couldn't say it in the way that it's written, it will be rewritten for you in a way that you can, and they're also open to improvisation in the moment.”

Elizabeth Saunders as Donna in From Season 2, on Paramount+ in Canada (Chris Reardon/MGM+)
Elizabeth Saunders as Donna in From Season 2, on Paramount+ in Canada (Chris Reardon/MGM+)

'It really wants to examine people pushed to their edge'

Another particularly appealing aspect of From is the way the narrative taps into the human psyche, human instincts and in a unique way, there's heart and emotion driving this story, while still being very much within the constructs of the horror genre.

Bailey shared that he's a fan of Ingmar Bergman's films, the prolific Swedish filmmaker whose films are frequently referred to as "profoundly personal meditations into the myriad struggles facing the psyche and the soul." The actor believes that From shares some of those core elements in its conception.

“It really wants to examine people pushed to their edge, and the creatures, and this town that traps people, that allows the context to be extreme so people are pushed to their limits in these heightened circumstances,” Bailey said. “The characters get to find out things about themselves that they wouldn't have otherwise known, … how they behave under extreme pressure, what their loved ones and fellow citizens behave like when the chips are down.”

“You find out about things, about people, and that's where the most significant bonding in life happens. Especially when we're in danger and we see what we do for each other, or to protect ourselves. To protect our own interests or do something for the communal good. So this show gives you an examination of that.”

For Jim's story in particular, that's particularly evident as he and Tabitha (Catalina Sandino Moreno) have lost a child, entering the story at a "total loss" and a "low point in their life and wondering if they can survive this before the marriage dissolves."

“They start at a real low and then had to build through the first season, and the second season, and it's like a reverse arc of tragedy,” Bailey said. “It actually starts to build into something because our family, we still have our two living children who we have to protect, and we have to find a way to come together to help each other and our children. Instead of letting the weight and the pressure of this place completely destroy us.”

“I love storytelling from the psychological perspective first, and then the thrills and the chills of the horror and the creatures, and all that, is a bonus. It serves as a way to heighten the circumstances, which takes you back to the infinite loop of, … just like the town, you can't escape. You'll always be there experiencing this kind of Groundhog Day of the same things again and again and again, until you eventually find your way out.”