Paranormal review: Is Netflix’s first Egyptian series bingeworthy?

Ahmed Amin in Paranormal Season 1 - Photo Credit: Batool Al Daawi/Netflix
Ahmed Amin in Paranormal Season 1 - Photo Credit: Batool Al Daawi/Netflix /

Is Paranormal worth a watch on Netflix?

Paranormal made history today when it premiered on Netflix. The new Netflix original, which is based on a book series of the same name by Ahmed Khaled Tawfik, is the first Egyptian series to debut on the streaming network.

And Paranormal reviews are already rolling in, but before I share my thoughts on it, let’s take a quick look at what it’s all about and how it’s being received by audiences and critics alike.

Is Dr. Refaat Ismail cursed? Ahmed Amin totally nails his part as the pragmatic and melancholy hematology professor haunted by the specter of a little girl.

Except, like Mr. Murphy, who created a set of laws Refaat can relate, the good doctor also has his own set of laws he lives by that he called Refaat’s Rules. The first one is that “nature operates by the principle that 1 + 1 = 2. Cause and effect. Anything outside of this equation is not normal. And there is no such thing as the paranormal.”

Except, a variety of supernatural events and strange occurrences that happen to him and his loved ones will challenge all of Refaat’s Rules, but especially his first one. Will he end up modifying or amending any of them?

Is Paranormal good?

What kind of reviews has Paranormal gotten so far?

It hasn’t gotten enough critic reviews yet for a Tomatometer score on Rotten Tomatoes, but so far the early Audience Score is 100%. However, that’s likely to change and drop as more users weigh-in, but by how much?

There also aren’t a lot of reviews on the series, but an early one from Decider recommends streaming it and I couldn’t agree more.

Paranormal review

Even though Refaat lives and works in Cairo and a large part of the series is set there, it also flashes back to where he grew up in Mansoura, and eventually, the story winds up back there. There’s also a trip to the deserts of Libya in search of a rare flower.

But I’m skipping ahead.

The bulk of Refaat’s “curse” started in Mansoura when, in 1940, he and his siblings were playing a game of hide and seek. Refaat wandered to the off-limits Al Khadrawy’s house. That’s where he meets a peculiar toothless girl in a white dress named Shiraz (Reem Abd El Kader). She invites Refaat and his siblings to play with her, which they do, but Refaat’s siblings, especially his sisters, never really warm up to Shiraz. They think she’s strange.

Eventually, they realize she’s a ghost, something they never really talk about as they get older. But when Refaat’s nephew claims to see her too, Refaat keeps trying to cling to his first rule that the paranormal doesn’t exist, which is hard to do when things keep happening to challenge that.

Like a mummy’s curse that threatens to kill not only his fiancee, Huwaida (Aya Samaha), but also wipe out humanity. He manages to stop that, and in the process becomes revered as a paranormal expert. A title with responsibilities he most definitely wants no part of.

Even though there are some scary bits, there’s also a surprising amount of humor, which lends an irresistible charm to the surly Refaat.

There are also some outrageous parts that make no sense, such as what at first appears to be a Bigfoot-like creature that’s guardian to a cave in the middle of a Libyan desert. Refaat needs access to the cave to find a rare flower that could cure Huwaida. The Bedouins believe the creature guards the rare flower, but Refaat discovers it’s a gorilla guarding its baby.

There’s also a love story when Maggie, a classmate Refaat knew when he lived in Scotland, re-enters the picture. Maggie was his first love, but he was too shy to tell her. She married someone else but is divorced. Except, now Refaat’s engaged.

But it’s a marriage his sister is pushing on him. His heart still belongs to Maggie. Will he finally have the courage to tell her?

Even for some of the inconsistencies and outlandishness, there’s a solid plot that revolves around Refaat.

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