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From Ghoul to The Terror, the top 5 horror shows of 2018 for you to binge this Halloween

From Netflix’s Haunting of Hill House and Ghoul to HBO’s Sharp Objects and AMC’s The Terror, 2018 has been a phenomenal year for horror in television. Here are the top 5 shows for you to binge this Halloween.

weekend binge Updated: Oct 31, 2018 08:50 IST
Rohan Naahar
Rohan Naahar
Hindustan Times
Ghoul,Halloween,The Terror
Netflix’s Ghoul ushered in a new era in Indian horror.

There is a correlation between horror as a genre and the general state of moviegoing. The more scary movies one watches, the more desensitised you’re likely to become. For example, after a few go arounds, neither is the sight of green puke scary, nor is the death of a central character as shocking as the first time you watched The Exorcist or Game of Thrones.

The same is true of our acceptance of mediocrity at the cinemas. The moment it became alright for films to deliver the bare minimum and still earn money at the box office was the moment the entire industry was doomed. Critic Mark Kermode wrote an entire book about this.

The chasm between the audience’s tastes and what critics have to say about films and TV - particularly in the horror genre - is already vast. The recent films Hereditary and The Nun excellent examples of the sort of disconnect that exists between fans who pay who have to pay for their entertainment and critics who’re paid to talk about it. Hereditary received ecstatic reviews, but was curb-stomped by the audiences. Meanwhile, the devastatingly dreadful Conjuring spin-off didn’t let godawful critical reaction get in the way of a record-breaking box office performance.

When the two elements come together, there is nothing like it - it happened recently with Stephen King’s It. But while such synchronicity is rare in movies, 2018 has shown that television has tremendous potential for the genre, culminating with the one-two punch of Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House and AMC’s wonderful documentary series presented by Eli Roth, History of Horror.

On Halloween, here are the best horror TV shows of the year, which are all united by their rare ability of having been enthusiastically received by both fans and critics.

Ghoul

The fearless narrative risks taken by Ghoul, in a weird way, were scarier than some of the actual set pieces in the show. So while watching it, you were doubly scared - of the well-crafted horror, and the possibility of the crew of facing terrifying retaliation because of some of the plot choices they made. Either way, Ghoul is a major win for Indian horror - a rather non-existent genre plagued by decades of dilution thanks to the forced addition of music and romance in perfectly fine supernatural stories.

The Terror

Famously, Anthony Hopkins had only around 15 minutes of screen time in The Silence of the Lambs, approximately the same amount of time we saw the shark in Jaws - this was enough to establish both in the annals of horror cinema, emphasising the age-old notion that what you don’t see is often more potent than what you do. The Terror, available to stream on Hotstar, comes awfully close to nailing this sweet spot. It’s a show that values atmosphere over cheap scares, and relies more on sustained psychological dread over unearned moments of shock.

Castle Rock

2018 has been a terrific year for Stephen King, but unlike last year, when he had It, Gerald’s Game and 1922, the celebrated writer was once again the centre of attention, but this time because of the many tributes to his work. While both The Haunting of Hill House and The Rain, which we’ll talk about presently, owe their entire existence to King’s stories and the themes with which he is so synonymous, Castle Rock is a more direct homage. Set within King’s fictional universe, the show feels less like an adaptation and more like a re-imagining. It’s a treasure trove for fans, who can spend hours happily dissecting all the references.

Sharp Objects

Recent years have shown that there is a market for arthouse horror - there always was, but 2018 proves that it is sustainable. HBO’s Sharp Objects, available on Hotstar, is perhaps the most experimental title on this list, directed with unapologetic bravery by Jean-Marc Vallée, and featuring some of the most exuberant filmmaking you’re likely to see on television. Sharp Objects is a near-perfect Southern Gothic horror story, with one of the most talked about endings of any piece of entertainment this year.

The Rain

Like John Krasinski’s phenomenal A Quiet Place, Netflix’s The Rain’s fortunes rest upon one idea - one gorgeous, stunningly realised and patiently explored idea: stay dry, stay alive. When contemporary Denmark is plagued by toxic rain, a small band of survivors must learn to live in a post-apocalyptic world, where what was once seen as sustenance has poisoned all humanity.

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The author tweets @RohanNaahar

First Published: Oct 31, 2018 08:48 IST