Netflix's Marianne Season 1 Review

The Haunting of Hill Chateau

by Casimir Harlow

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Netflix's Marianne may well fill the Haunting of Hill House void in your life, offering creepy atmospheric thrills and some decent Stephen King-style small-town mystery.

With a second season of Hill House on the way, Netflix clearly don't want fans to wait for their next haunted horror fix, playing to their strengths (the streaming service has some great original crime and sci-fi titles, as well as some less impressive ones, but it seldom falls down on the horror front) and delivering a new show to keep you going.

The setup is simple but effective: young horror author Emma has decided she wants to stop her current run of successful books, leaving fans frustrated by a cliffhanger ending, and hoping to move onto a different subject matter. When she finds out about unusual happenings in her home town, which appear to have come straight out of her books which were based on her experiences there, she is compelled to go home to investigate, finding that people there are channelling her most terrifying creation - the witch-like character of Marianne - and Marianne doesn't want her story to be over.

Marianne is at its best with the lights out, when you don't quite know what is real

Don't be put off by the fact that this is a foreign entry in the Netflix catalogue - it's a great Stephen King-style mystery horror infused with more than enough creepy hallucinations and possessed personifications to get you past the necessity to handle subtitles. There are some nice, unusual characters: Victoire du Bois' protagonist takes a moment to get used to but makes for an atypical heroine and one who - despite her young age (and Netflix has poor form for this in Another Life and The I-Land) - is remarkably compelling.
Marianne
Marianne gets off to a great start, turning a simple book signing on its head, and shaking things up to get the main character's attention and - in the process - certainly getting the audience's. After the way over-the-top CGI 'scares' of It: Chapter Two, it's nice to have things dialled down a little, relying on lights going out and shadows coming alive to creep you out, whilst the pleasantly reserved 'possession' of people close to Emma adds a nice level of organically disturbing disconcertment. Self-mutilation works wonders here, without the need for rampant effects, and Marianne is at its best with the lights out, when you don't quite know what is real.

Fans of both The Haunting of Hill House and any of the many recent Stephen King adaptations should consider it one to add to their Netflix list

There is some Euro-sensibility in here, which adds a hint of tonal imbalance (around the time the inept fanboy detective arrives), but that arguably keeps the momentum going, otherwise the whole thing would get too stodgy with sombre moroseness and perpetual gloom. In this respect, the protagonist - or protagonists, as she's paired with her beleaguered assistant who soon becomes equally invested in the investigation - is well chosen, adding some welcome energy and spunk to the feature. It shouldn't take longer than an episode to get you hooked, and fans of both The Haunting of Hill House and any of the many recent Stephen King adaptations should consider it another one to add to their Netflix list to watch.

Scores

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