With Halloween just around the corner, Netflix has begun unfolding its ‘Netflix and Chill’ lineup for the year. Unfortunately, Mike Flanagan’s follow-up to The Haunting of Hill House – The Haunting of Bly Manor – doesn’t come out until next year. But fear not, Netflix dropped French series, Marianne, on Friday the 13th this month. Even if subtitles aren’t your thing, Marianne’s trailer promises some genuine chills for horror fans.
Successful horror novelist, Emma Larsimon, returns home to Elden following the tragic suicide of a childhood friend. After years away, the estranged Emma struggles to re-connect with her parents and friends. However, Emma’s homecoming is complicated by increasingly strange, haunting events. Childhood nightmare that fueled her writing are re-surfacing. Now Emma believes her nightmares, and a witch she ‘created’, Marianne, are endangering he family and friends in the real world.
Marianne a Taut, Visually Terrifying Horror Series
Last year, The Haunting of Hill House demonstrated just what a horror series could truly deliver. One year later, French series Marianne further proves how engrossing a horror can be as a multi-episode series. Director Samuel Bodin crafts some genuinely terrifying horror visuals. Perhaps what’s impressive is that Bodin maintains both the atmosphere and scares over all eight episodes. Expect no let-downs or filler in any episode. Thought there’s some familiarity with some of Marianne’s visuals, nothing feels derivative. This is just a refreshingly scary web series that never relents or runs out of ideas.
Overall, Marianne balances jump scares and some gross-out moments with deeper psychological terror.
If you’ve seen any of Marianne’s promotional materials, you’re likely familiar with the series’ creepy ‘old lady’, Mrs Daugeron. She’s a casting coup for the series. From appearance to her mannerisms, Mrs Daugeron may be one of the most unnerving horror antagonists in recent memory. Bodin uses a collection of clever editing, lighting, and effects to construct his scares. Overall, Marianne balances jump scares and some gross-out moments with deeper psychological terror. Each episodes seems to boast an image that will linger with you long after the credits have rolled.
Fantastic Story-Telling and World-Building Make Marianne Binge-Worthy
To some extent, Marianne touches on themes that Stephen King himself has explored. That it, the series conceit of a horror novelist’s nightmarish creations seeping out from their own nightmares to the real-world is an idea King has touched on. But writers Bodin and Quoc Dang Tran impressively flesh out the them and make it their own. The Netflix series’ story of witch, Marianne, is expertly craft over its eight episodes. Specifically, Bodin and Tran’s narrative structure does an excellent job of advancing the story, introducing twists and new ideas that inevitably carve out a unique mythology. In particular, Marianne’s final episode introduces a potentially larger haunted world that extends beyond the series’ titular witch. There’s something very satisfying about watching a show that can engage and surprise you from start to finish.
… Marianne’s final episode introduces a potentially larger haunted world that extends beyond the series’ titular witch.
Where Marianne further excels is with its character arcs and playful tone. Over its eight episodes, Marianne carefully introduces its characters and fleshes out their relationships. For an episode or two, Emma may seem like the only character of interest or worth investing in. Yet by the final episode, Marianne’s supporting characters are elevated and their relationships integral to the story. The relationships in the series tap into the same kind of affectionate nostalgia that Andy Muschetti’s It accomplished. What’s most surprising about the series is its ability to lighten up its tone in between scares. Bodin uses some fun edits and screen transitions that emulate the series’ novelist theme. Welcome doses of humor also help ease the tension at just the right moments.
More Victoire Du Bois, Please
At the heart of the very good Marianne, Victoire Du Bois’ ‘Emma Larsimon’ makes for an utterly captivating principal protagonist. Larsimon is a complex character – at times repellent, while sympathetic at other times. Ultimately, she’s a strong character who benefits from layered writing and Du Bois’ excellent performance. Warts and all, Du Bois brings Emma Larsimon to life on the small screen. Arguably, Emma Larsimon is one of the most compelling horror characters in recent memory. Du Bois is backed by a strong cast of supporting characters, all of whom you’ll be happy to re-visit.
Marianne Stands As The Best Horror Series of 2019
Don’t let the subtitles deter you. In a year that’s given us Chambers, Black Summer, The Society, and AHS 1984, Marianne stands out as the best horror series of 2019. Scary, funny, and often touching, it’s absolutely binge-worth and the kind of series you will want to re-visit. Indeed, it’s very scary stuff. In fact, Marianne deserves mention alongside last year’s The Haunting of Hill House. Hopefully, Netflix picks up a second season.