This article comes from Den of Geek UK.
The late 2010’s have been a banner time for horror. Across all media formats, horror is a big deal and everyone has been scrambling for a slice of that gory pie. Traditionally, horror is a big screen format, but with the rise of streaming services, the continued need for hours of content for cable, and network shows reaching out for marketable niche programming, small screen horror is thriving. Here are the eleven best horror shows currently airing.
The Haunting Of Hill House
Creator: Mike Flanagan
Premise: Hugh and Olivia Crain move into the crumbling Hill House with their five children. The goal is to renovate the mansion, sell it for a profit, and build the family dream home. Unfortunately for the Crains, the house needs more renovations than expected, and during that process, the Crain children begin to have terrifying paranormal experiences. The ghostly happenings escalate into a world-shattering tragedy that haunts the Crains to the present day. Read our full spoiler-free review here.
Why it’s worth watching: Hill House manages to be one of the most famous and influential books in horror, one of the best movies in horror (1963’s The Haunting), and an exercise in both emotional anguish and psychological terror. Somehow it’s simultaneously beautiful to look at, hard to watch, emotionally wrenching, and visceral. There are images in that show that are hard to forget. A second season, called The Haunting Of Bly Manor, is forthcoming.
Creators: Karl Schaefer and John Hyams
Premise: In the early days of the zombie apocalypse, there’s still order, but humanity is being pushed back by an enemy that can’t be reasoned with and is incredibly difficult to kill. For Jaime King’s Rose, her only goal is to reunite with her daughter. But in order to do that, she’ll need to survive in a rapidly changing world, with the help of a small group of survivors.
Why it’s worth watching: The Asylum is mostly known for its mockbusters, but the studio has quietly put together a solid reputation in the world of genre film and television. Say what you want about their relative merits, the Sharknado films were kind of fun (at least the first one), and The Asylum’s zombie television series, Z Nation, was a bit of lightness in an otherwise grim genre. Where Z Nation used atmosphere for amusement, Black Summer uses atmosphere for dread. The same alchemy the goes into crafting a joke works equally well for crafting a scare, and Black Summer pulls no punches in showing the bleakness and terror of a world slowly succumbing to madness. Without The Walking Dead‘s special effects budget, Black Summer‘s scares come from brilliant film-making and zombies that are faster, stronger, and more relentless than their big-budget relative.
Season one of Black Summer debuted in April.
Creator: David Kajganich
Premise: Two of the Royal Navy’s most high-tech ships, the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, are on an expedition to find the fabled Northwest Passage. Using a combination of engine and sail, the two ships plan to break through the Arctic ice and find passage to India. The two ships, unsurprisingly, end up frozen in the ice, isolated hundreds of miles from the nearest habitation. A mysterious creature and the pitiless cruelty of nature endangers the sailors from without, while human frailty, illness, and insanity threatens them from within. Will Sir John Franklin, Captain Francis Crozier, and the rest of the HMS Terror and Erebus survive in a land where summer never comes? You can follow along with our episodic reviews of season 1 here.
Why it’s worth watching: If The Thing isn’t bleak enough for you, consider The Terror. Never has a show felt both claustrophobic and agoraphobic at the same time. Top-notch performances from Jared Harris, Tobias Menzies, Ciaran Hinds, and Paul Ready serve to push along a tight, tense story. Even before the monster begins to kill crew members, The Terror lives up to its name.
A second season in the anthology series, called The Terror: Infamy, recently debuted.
American Horror Story
Creators: Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk
Premise: The original and most successful horror anthology series of recent years, American Horror Story is the forerunner for things like Into The Dark and the second season of The Terror. Each season is a self-contained miniseries with different characters, settings, and themes. The most resent season, Apocalypse, brought together the characters and casts from two previous seasons, Murder House and Coven, to craft a campy, gory tale of the end of the world.
Why it’s worth watching: When American Horror Story is at its peak, it’s brilliant television. Funny, evocative, insightful, bold, and unlike anything else on the small screen. Like any anthology, some stories are better than others, but a strong repertory company of actors, including Jessica Lange, Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Kathy Bates, and more, team with genre veteran writers and directors like Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, Jennifer Lynch, James Wong, and Jessica Sharzer to bring to life characters both amusing and terrifying in turn. If one season doesn’t resonate, then simply wait for the next, it’s guaranteed to be different.
American Horror Story season 9 is titled “1984” and appears to be heavily influenced by 80s slasher films and is coming in September.
The Walking Dead
Creators: Robert Kirkman, Frank Darabont, Gale Ann Hurd, and a whole host of others
Premise: Years into a zombie apocalypse, motley crews of survivors come together, fracture apart, fight, feud, and cooperate with one another in the face of an overwhelming zombie menace waiting for an opening to pounce upon the struggling survivors.
Why it’s worth watching: With the departure of Andrew Lincoln, Lauren Cohan, and showrunner Scott Gimple, The Walking Dead‘s ninth season is something of a new start for an already established show. With new showrunner Angela Kang comes new directors, new writers, new actors, and an infusion of freshness into what remains one of cable television’s dominant programs. Certainly, it’s not the unkillable juggernaut it was a few years ago, but more is on the way with a retooled companion piece in Fear The Walking Dead, an upcoming trilogy of movies starring Rick Grimes, and a spinoff YA series planned. Like the titular zombies, it might be slowing, but it isn’t stopping any time soon. The Walking Dead has survived competition, audience fracture, and network interference like no show of its type, and it continues to produce great drama and impressive scares.
The Walking Dead Season 10 is coming on Sunday, Oct. 6th. Here’s everything we know about the upcoming season.
Into The Dark
Creators: Blumhouse Productions, various writers and directors.
Premise: A different movie every month, inspired by the month of its release, all tied together in a loose anthology format.
Why it’s worth watching: Various horror note-worthies (Nacho Vigalongo and Patrick Lussier among others) are given a different holiday or special event to base a horror film around. Some of these, like Halloween and Christmas, are obvious. Others, like International Women’s Day, give the creative crew an opportunity to skew more political. The results can be a mixed bag in terms of an individual story’s success or failure, but Jason Blum and company deserve all the credit in the world for trying something new. It’s an anthology series of movies, all of which feel different and yet similar, thanks to what I can only describe as the Blumhouse aesthetic.
Creators: The Duffer Brothers
Premise: In the rural town of Hawkins, Indiana, strange things are happening, and we’re not talking about the 1980’s hairstyles and fashions. We’re talking an alternate dimension, supernatural monsters, telekinesis, psychic powers, mustaches, missing children, and secret governmental conspiracies.
Why it’s worth watching: Let’s be honest, you’ve probably already watched Stranger Things. 1980’s nostalgia, science fiction, horror, and some impressive performances from folks like Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Joe Keery, Finn Wolfhard, Sean Astin, Paul Reiser. and Millie Bobbie Brown, among others. The show leans a bit more sci-fi than horror most of the time, but like Alien, it blurs that line quite a bit. Stranger Things season 4 is already in production.
Creators: James DeMonaco
Broadcaster: USA Network
Premise: In a dystopian America in which all crime is legal for one 12-hour period per year, various characters have various experiences during Purge night while trying to survive an orgy of murder.
Why it’s worth watching: If you liked the Purge movies (a fifth one is on the way), you’ll probably like the Purge TV series. It’s not quite as tightly written, and the first season had a few characters who were less interesting than others, but such is the nature of episodic television. When The Purge leaned into its premise with things like Good Leader Tavis’s death cult and the murder carnival, it was the kind of impressive weirdness that can still struggle to find a home on television, especially a basic cable outlet like USA. Certainly, it pulled a few punches considering the limits of network standards and practices, but not as many as one might expect.
The Purge season 2 is coming sometime in 2019. Here’s what we know about the new installment of the anthology.
The Last Drive-In With Joe Bob Briggs
Creators: Austin Jennings, John Bloom
Premise: The world’s foremost drive-in movie critic screens horror films both classic and obscure, dovetailing each film with the “Drive-In Totals,” facts about the film and filmmakers, personal stories, jokes, observations, and the occasional musical interlude.
Why it’s worth watching: After three successful movie marathons proved the viability of the horror host format, Joe Bob Briggs and company have made the most of their new home on Shudder. Basically, The Last Drive-In is a rehash of Briggs’ previous shows, Drive-In Theater and MonsterVision, but on an uncensored streaming service. Yes, Briggs will interrupt the movies he presents at several points to inject facts, tell stories, or otherwise weave tales into the fabric of the film, but for fans of Joe Bob’s unique brand of wit, those interruptions are welcome indeed. The films themselves vary based on Shudder’s library, but thus far Joe Bob and Darcy the Mail Girl have dissected and discussed wide-ranging fare from classics like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Phantasm to oddities like Q The Winged Serpent and Street Trash. Where else could you possibly watch a loving tribute to the late director Larry Cohen during one film, and watch a movie in which people play gridiron football with a severed penis during the next film? The movies themselves can be a lot of fun, but it’s hearing Joe Bob talk in depth about (and to) the creators and stars of these movies that makes The Last Drive-In worthwhile viewing.
A second season has been announced to great fanfare.
Creators: Baran bo Odar, Jantje Friese
Premise: Dark is an ncredibly complicated German time travel horror involving missing children and multiple time lines. This is sci-fi/horror which veers into full on “good versus evil” territory, as families who live in the small town of Winden are charted through three generations. This is the first German-language Netflix original, there are two seasons already available to watch, with a third and final season already commissioned.
Why it’s worth watching: If you can actually follow what’s going on this is a massively rewarding watch with revelations, twists and out-there moments in every episode. Season one ends with a massive cliff hanger which opens up the series to whole new post-apocalyptic possibilities and season two is even more expansive but definitely no less complicated. If you like your horror existential, and you’re not put off by subtitles this is well worth your time. A third and final season is in production.
Creator: Charlie Brooker
Premise: An anthology series focusing on the dark side of technology, the “Black Mirror” of the title refers to your phone screen, as well as indicating the show’s satirical and sinister reflection of society. Episodes frequently boast an a-list cast and high profile guest directors including Joe Wright, Jodie Foster, Dan Trachtenberg, and John Hillcoat.
Why it’s worth watching: There are five seasons to date and each has some serious high points. Season one’s peak is probably “The Entire History Of You.” For season two we’d go for “Be Right Back,” while season three, after the show’s move to Netflix, has at least four corkers in “Nosedive,” “Playtest,” “Shut Up And Dance” and “San Junipero.” For season four we’d recommend “USS Callister,” “Hang The DJ” and “Crocodile,” and in five “Striking Vipers” would be our top pick. The feature length choose your own adventure style standalone “Bandersnatch” is also very much worth a watch where you can actually pick the direction of the narrative yourself. This is some of the smartest TV around.