Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, reporter Camille Preaker faces a troubling assignment: she must return to her tiny hometown to cover the unsolved murder of a preteen girl and the disappearance of another. For years, Camille has hardly spoken to her neurotic, hypochondriac mother or to the half-sister she barely knows: a beautiful thirteen-year-old with an eerie grip on the town. Now, installed in her old bedroom in her family’s Victorian mansion, Camille finds herself identifying with the young victims—a bit too strongly. Dogged by her own demons, she must unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past if she wants to get the story—and survive this homecoming.
In addition, The HBO mini-series Sharp Objects is full of shadows and echoes and things you can’t quite fully glimpse — mysteries you know are there but can’t yet see, stories with contours you can’t totally make out. The hidden lines of history lurk underneath everything, but it’s also a show with words scratched on its surface. Sometimes they’re pitch-black, slantwise jokes about femininity and social expectations, sometimes they’re warning signs, and sometimes they’re straight, uninflected daggers of self-loathing.
As we discover in the last shot of the premiere episode, Camille Preaker literally carves words into her skin, turning herself into lexicography of pain. She writes the inside words on the outside, naming and defining her story on her body. If Sharp Objects is an extension of Camille’s own self, an indication of how much its camera is also Camille’s eye, it makes sense that many of those words are also scratched and painted on the show itself. They hide in plain sight, suddenly visible in one frame and disappearing in the next.