The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men gang aft agley.
Or so said Robert Burns.
I’d planned on watching more spooky stuff this month, but I got so busy, it sorta fell apart there at the end. Alas.
So for my final Spooktober entry, I’ll cover another Netflix show that Laura and I watched this month, which was on-theme, but not originally intended to be part of my Spooktober viewings: The 10-episode Netflix series, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.
To clear up some misconceptions: This is not a “reboot” of the mediocre 90s sitcom, Sabrina The Teenage Witch. I’ve seen folks online reacting to it as such.
It is based on a 2014 comic book series from Archie Comics’ phenomenal “Archie Horror” line, which, like the sitcom, was a riff on the early-60s Sabrina the Witch character. For folks not aware: the Archie line has been doing some experimentation alongside their usual “mid-century wholesome teenagers” main line. (This is one of the reasons why the Riverdale show wasn’t what you were expecting, either). In fact, the title sequence of the show uses the amazing Robert Hack artwork from the covers of that series (like the image above, for example).
Interestingly, the series is actually a bit LESS dark than the comic. There were sequences in the comic which were stunningly horrific, which the series lightened considerably. In the end, the Netflix series comes off more like a PG-13, Halloween-themed Harry Potter than the genuine horror of the comic.
That said, the performances are good, the casting is good, the production design is excellent, and it’s nice bit of dark fantasy which combines teen melodrama with the occult. Give it a shot.
Another disappointing one last night, I’m afraid — Annabelle, the first spin-off of the CONJURING series.
Even worse, it wasn’t horrible. It was just “meh.” At no point did it get bad enough for me to turn it off, I just kept waiting for it to become something other than mediocre, and it never did. Unfortunate.
I hadn’t seen this one yet, but I went into it with high hopes. I love The Conjuring films — I grew up reading accounts of The Warrens’ investigations in the seventies. I knew about the doll (although the actual Annabelle is a hand-made Raggedy Ann, not a creepy porcelain doll). And I’d heard that this film was a period piece, set in Los Angeles in the late 60s, a period ripe for cult-y shenanigans (what with Manson, et. al.).
And yet, with all that going for it, the actual film ended up as a wet squib. A shocking lack of good scares, even. I honestly don’t understand how you can have all of these great ingredients: a spin-off of a great property, an interesting period setting, hippy satanic cults, and a FREAKIN’ POSSESSED DOLL… and still not manage to make something so entirely unengaging. At least if it was actively bad, I would’ve given them credit for trying and failing. This was just… there.
The most recent Spooktober viewing was done over the past weekend, when Laura and I binge-watched all ten episodes of Netflix’s new series, The Haunting of Hill House.
TL;DR version: HOLY FUCKING SHIT.
To unpack that a bit more:
Shirley Jackson’s novel is one of my all-time favorite horror books. The 1961 film version, The Haunting is an absolute classic, and a terrifying slice of childhood trauma (I disobeyed my parents, snuck out of bed and caught a peek of it when they were watching it on TV, and it scared the bejesus out of me).
When the trailer first hit, I was mad — because it didn’t look like it had anything to do with the actual story.
I am pleased to report that while, yes, this is an entirely new tale — there is WAY more of Jackson’s novel in the series than I feared would be. A ton, in fact. Nice easter eggs for those of us who are fans.
And the show itself? I am not kidding: This is, hands-down, the best horror series I’ve ever seen, and in fact, I might even go as far as saying this might even be the best horror ANYTHING since the turn of the 21st century, and maybe even a bit further. Yes, it’s that good.
I will not say more — you deserve to go into this un-spoiled. My only recommendation is that you might be careful watching it…
…in the dark.
…in the night.