Hasitha Fernando on the best TV series to binge this Halloween…
It’s Spooktober once again, ladies and gents and what better way to welcome the chills and scares of Halloween than binge-watching a few TV series to whet your appetites eh? But with the innumerable streaming platforms out there offering their respective content, choosing what to watch and what to avoid have become quite the challenge. So, in order to spare you of that laborious task here are a list of horror-tinged TV shows that debuted from the erstwhile Halloween season up to this point. Happy Hunting folks!
MIDNIGHT MASS (NETFLIX)
An isolated seaside village starts experiencing strange miracles when a charismatic young priest joins their community parish.
Starring Hamish Linklater, Samantha Sloyan, Zach Gilford, Kate Siegel, Rahul Kohli, Annabeth Gish, Henry Thomas.
It’s all-but-obvious that horror auteur Mike Flanagan has called Netflix his home, for the foreseeable future. The talented writer-director who’s received universal acclaim for his outstanding adaptations of works by Shirley Jackson (Haunting of Hill House), Henry James (Haunting of Bly Manor) and Stephen King (Doctor Sleep, Gerald’s Game) over the years, has now returned with an original effort for Midnight Mass. The long gestating project was rejected multiple times, by numerous television networks and streaming services, before going into production in 2020. The exquisitely crafted mini-series addresses complex issues that range from blind faith, existential angst to religious fundamentalism, whilst serving up a more-than-sufficient dose of horror. Bolstered by captivating performances by all involved and stellar technical craftsmanship, this moody horror-drama reminds us once more, that real horror aren’t the things that go bump-in-the-night.
LISEY’S STORY (APPLE TV+)
A grieving widow becomes the idée fixe of a dangerous stalker, obsessed with her late husband’s works.
Starring Julianne Moore, Clive Owen, Dane DeHaan, Joan Allen, Jennifer Jason Leigh.
Lisey’s Story marks Chilean filmmaker Pablo Larraín’s first foray into the horror genre. Having racked up an enviable filmography crafting excellent biopics, Larraín takes a stab at adapting a Stephen King novel with the help of the horror maestro himself. The result is a stunningly atmospheric horror- drama that centers on the grief and pain we endure with the passing of a loved one. The last we saw the pairing of Clive Owen and Julianne Moore was in 2006’s crushing dystopian drama Children of Men, so it’s certainly a real treat to see the duo sharing the screen once again on this heartfelt journey. With compelling performances accompanied by mesmeric cinematography and a bittersweet score; a tragic tale of loss is brought to life with style and finesse by Larraín. A definite must see.
THEM (AMAZON PRIME)
A black American family moves into an idyllic all-white neighborhood in 1950s Los Angeles, where their home becomes the epicenter of malevolent activity.
Starring Deborah Ayorinde, Ashley Thomas, Alison Pill, and Shahadi Wright Joseph.
Hot on the success of writer-director Jordan Peele’s unique brand of ‘social-thrillers’ producer Little Marvin created an equally provocative TV series this year, in the format of an anthology series titled Them. The story revolves around a close-knit African American family who during the Second Great Migration, move out from North Carolina and move to Los Angeles in a bid to escape racial torment. Unfortunately, their initially idyllic life takes a turn for the worse, as the family gets harassed by forces both otherworldly and suburban, in a malicious manner. The leads on both side of the picket fence are spectacularly brought to life by the actors, with a particularly vicious standout by Alison Pill (Devs), as the primary antagonist Betty Wendell. If the likes of Get Out and Us are your type of witches’ brew, don’t forget to check out this terrifying slice of American suburbia this Halloween.
A widowed Sea Captain and his family relocates to their ancestral home in Maine, where a dark past awaits to be confronted.
Starring Adrian Brody, Emily Hampshire, Jennifer Ens, Sirena Gulamgaus, Ian Ho, and Christopher Heyerdahl.
Based on the short story Jerusalem’s Lot by Stephen King this period horror-drama features Academy award winner Adrian Brody as its lead, along with an excellent cast of supporting actors, of which Emily Hampshire (Schitt’s Creek) is the most recognizable. The story follows Captain Charles Boone who returns to his family estate in Preacher’s Corner, Maine in 1850 with the intention of forging a new beginning. However, the dark curse that hung over his predecessors starts creeping up on him as well. Now, although we can say that this tale sounds eerily familiar, there’s plenty of moody atmosphere, blood-soaked violence and engrossing performances to keep you occupied. It’s been quite a long while since we saw Brody sink his teeth (pun intended) into a meaty role like this and boy, does he deliver. Overall Chapelwaite, is yet another solid Stephen King adaptation that’s definitely worth checking out.
CHUCKY (SYFY/ USA NETWORK)
A vintage Chucky doll turns up at a local yard sale, and an idyllic suburban town is thrown into chaos through a series of brutal murders.
Starring Zackary Arthur, Brad Dourif, Bjorgvin Arnarson, Teo Briones, Alyvia Alyn Lind, Lexa Doig, and Devon Sawa.
A direct sequel to 2017’s Cult of Chucky, this horror TV series is the effort of original Chucky creator Don Mancini. There was some doubt initially, regarding the viability of the project, since 2019 saw the Child’s Play reboot hitting theaters. Fortunately, the film wasn’t the success that Universal had hoped and Mancini’s proposal was green lit. One of the biggest pluses the show has in its favor is the return of Brad Dourif. Having voiced the acid-humored, murderous doll for the near-entirety of the franchise, it’s certainly great to see the veteran actor make a return to the roll he made famous. Although we’re only three episodes in, it’s safe to say that Mancini’s crafted a great story that pays homage to the franchise’s twisted legacy whilst delivering some timely social commentary.
I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER (AMAZON PRIME)
A group of close-knit friends are stalked by a murderer, one year after they coverup a car accident which killed someone.
Starring Madison Iseman, Bill Heck, Brianne Tju, Ezekial Goodman, Ashley Moore, Fiona Rene, and Brooke Bloom.
We all remember that 1997 teen slasher flick I Know What You Did Last Summer, featuring the crème de la crème of teen idols of that era, don’t we? Along with Wes Craven’s Scream the movie revitalized the slasher sub-genre for good measure, churning out multiple sequels which became increasingly ludicrous as time progressed. Flash forward to 2021, where we meet a new gaggle of hormone raging teenagers who are stalked by a brutal killer, for a sin they’ve committed. There’s nothing too ambitious or new going on here, but the TV series does offer up a decent whodunnit mystery woven into its surprisingly character-centric narrative. Certainly, worth seeing if you are a fan of slashers and murder mysteries.
30 COINS (HBO)
An exiled priest battles his personal demons whilst grappling with malevolent otherworldly forces that attempts to undo the natural order.
Starring Eduard Fernandez, Miguel Angel Silvestre, Megan Montaner, Macarena Gomez, Pepon Nieto, and Manolo Solo.
Spanish cult director Alex de la Iglesia has been quietly churning out excellent genre films for the past three decades, and his latest genre-blending TV show, which combines Christian mythology with Lovecraftian horror, is no different. This Spanish horror-mystery which debuted in November 2020, centers around an exorcist and former convict who must reluctantly team up with the town’s mayor and its resourceful veterinarian to unravel a dark conspiracy whose very roots extend up to the upper echelons of the Vatican. There’s a little bit of everything here- religious horror, dark comedy, cosmic terror and conspiracy theories- but the pitch perfect performances keep you thoroughly invested in this crazy yarn from start to finish. Do I recommend this? Hell yes!
Starring Ahmed Amin, Razane Jammal, Nick Shakoour, Aya Samaha, Samma Ibrahim, Reem Abd El Kader
This criminally overlooked Egyptian horror-drama show based on Ahmed Khaled Tawfik’s best-selling book series ‘Ma Waraa Al Tabia’ is truly something worth checking out this season of All Hallows Eve. Paranormal follows the thrilling adventures of hematologist Dr. Refaat Ismail, who reluctantly conducted investigations in to the world of the paranormal during his youth in 1960’s Egypt. Tawfik’s series have been published since 1993 and prior to his untimely demise had seen roughly 81 books featuring the dark-humored protagonist. Netflix has neither officially cancelled nor renewed this critically lauded show but if they are going ahead, they’ll certainly have enough and more material at their disposal to choose from. Akin to Twilight Zone meeting Sherlock Holmes, this nifty period horror-drama has plenty to offer in terms of story and performances, set in the backdrop of a uniquely beautiful Middle-Eastern culture.
What will you be watching this Halloween? Let us know on our social channels @FlickeringMyth…
Hasitha Fernando is a part-time medical practitioner and full-time cinephile. Follow him on Twitter via @DoctorCinephile for regular updates on the world of entertainment.