There is nothing scarier than a creepy old woman who’s totally lost her mind. See Mrs Ganush in Drag Me To Hell, the old woman in the bath from The Shining, Theresa May from real life. If you want to terrify the pants of a horror buff, put their grandma in a movie.
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Marianne, the jump-filled scare-a-thon that hit Netflix last month, is the latest series to make use of the coffin-dodger ruse. Set in rural France (yes it’s in French, get over it), the show follows Emma (Victoire Du Bois), a famous and successful French horror writer, who is forced to return to her hometown after an old school pal shows up at one of her book signings, out of the blue, and hangs herself. To make matters worse, the woman who haunted Emma’s dreams 15 years ago has started to reappear again. Oh, and when she pops by mum and dad’s ruddy big house in the country (unannounced), she walks in on her ex-rents rutting like rabbits. There is literally nothing else that could go wrong, until it spectacularly does.
Determined to get to the bottom of everything, Emma and her assistant (Camile, played by Lucie Boujenah) start to investigate. Led to the home of previously-mentioned dead schoolfriend Caroline, the pair encounter her absolutely-off-her-barnet mum. Obsessed with Emma’s novels and prone to carving her teeth out with a kitchen knife, Madame Daugeron is next level disturbing. At one point, the geriatric prankster hides behind the bedroom door. In the pitch black, all that can be seen shining out of the dark, are her glowing orange pupils. Cripes!
Although stuffed with jump-scares and gory violence, Marianne doesn’t ever seem tacky. In fact, the psychedelic dream sequences which force Emma to ponder whether she’s alive or dead have an existentialist thread running through them that you won’t find in other more mainstream horror series – here’s looking at you, American Horror Story. So, although there’s conventional frights-a-plenty, Marianne has more depth and a meatier narrative.
The gore quotient doesn’t feel over-the-top either. Instead of bodies exploding or maniacs squashing skulls with their bare hands, we have examples that actually agitate and leave you feeling uncomfortable. For example, when Madame Daugeron attempts to saw through her arm, eyes popping and staring right into Emma’s horrified face, it feels genuinely upsetting. The gradual slices and slow progress towards de-limbing look more realistic, as if this is what it would actually look like if the old biddy down the road took a domestic utensil to themselves while you were round for tea.
Of course, if you watch all foreign language content with dubbed audio, then you won’t get the full spine-chilling experience. After all, how do you expect to feel creeped out when the killer line is out of step with the actor’s mouth. Rubber jaws don’t make for well-executed jump scares. Best to stick it out with the subtitles – you’ll get used to them, we promise!
Still not convinced Marianne is for you? Then don’t take it from us – take it from the very many traumatised Netflix subscribers on the Internet.
“Netflix Marianne is one of the best horror stories I’ve experienced,” began one fan on Twitter. “Great cast, do yourself a favour and watch it in its original French.”
Watching Marianne on Netflix is making it hard to sleep at night ?
— Erin (@chasebankk) September 18, 2019
Another admitted it was “making it hard to sleep at night”, while one viewer expressed regret at their decision to watch: “someone stupid told me to watch this scary series on Netflix Marianne I’m hooked but I’m scared.”
Something stupid told me to watch this scary series on Netflix Marianne ?? I’m hooked but I’m scared ?
— just say black (@Mpho_Nums) September 18, 2019
To clarify, we advise that you stick it on ASAP. But if you’re not into horror – or like visiting your grandma on a Sunday afternoon sans gripping sense of dread – then steer clear. You’ll thank us later.
Marianne is streaming on Netflix now