“The God Complex” takes us to a surreal hotel where the corridors change lengths and rearrange themselves, and where every room holds nightmares. The Doctor, Amy, and Rory find themselves trapped in this hotel with a small group of other people, and must find a way out before the resident beast kills them all off one by one. This is writer Toby Whithouse’s third story for Doctor Who, and while it is definitely better than last year’s “Vampires of Venice”, it doesn’t reach the heights of his first script, “School Reunion”. Overall, I found “The God Complex” a bit of a mixed bag, although definitely more good than bad. It was very atmospheric with some great character work and fine performances, but there were also parts of it that just didn’t quite work for me. That said, I did enjoy it considerably more on second viewing.
The story is not particularly original, but this is not a criticism. It uses its borrowed material (from sources ranging from the myth of the Minotaur to The Shining to older Doctor Who stories like “The Horns of Nimon” and “The Curse of Fenric”; there’s even a specific reference to the Nimons) to weave a clever and original tale. Despite its horror-themed frame, it is very much a character story and focuses primarily on the Doctor and Amy, and their relationship, while also providing some great character moments for Rory, as well as a couple of the guest characters. Advance publicity focused a great deal on guest star David Walliams as the alien Gibbis, but I think the real prize for guest performance should go to Amara Karan who gives a stunning performance as Rita, the companion who could have been. SPOILERS FOLLOW