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Slow-burn horror TV?

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zippypinhead

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With the long form narrative structure of television, and the tendency to hold back on graphic content, you'd think there would be some good options when looking for horror television series that rely on intrigue and mystery, the build of creeping dread, drip-feeding information over many episodes. Where are these shows?

Since fall and all the spooky holidays are now officially upon us, what horror TV shows are y'all into?
 
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Some of these might not be considered "horror" by some people, but it's the type of horror that I like.

Castlevania - An animated series that is absolutely gorgeous. Well written characters, a lot of fun but also some rather dark underlying themes.

Hannibal - I enjoyed it somewhat, but sometimes the writing was a bit meh. I haven't seen it in years so maybe I'm misremembering. I know a lot of people really like it.

Mindhunter - If you liked Hannibal, you will love Mindhunter. It's, imo, more mature and polished.

Penny Dreadful - The mood is just oh so nice, imagery a feast for the eyes, and characters are given time to breathe and grow.

Sharp Objects - Very heavy. I cried a lot. Probably less "horror", but more "thriller". Definitely worth a watch.

The Haunting of Hill House - I'm not into supernatural horror so much as I find it all quite silly, but this show kept me wanting more and I was sad when it ended. Great show.

The Terror - Beautifully shot and emotions just ooze from the screen and into your being. Second season was meh, I didn't like it much, but the first season was perfect.

Twin Peaks - A classic that everyone should see. Definitely one of my most favorite tv shows of all time.
 
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It’s been a long time since I saw a good horror flick or series. They’re either too graphic or too talkative in many cases.

I got away from the horror genre a while ago because it turned into either gore/slasher films, or just too talkative. Another thing I don't care for is the way they film/edit a number of these kinds of movies.

I like a suspense/horror movie that leaves a lot more to the imagination than showing it. Kind of like the original Psycho movie, or similar to that. When a director shows everything, I'm forced to view it how they want me to see it, when I may imagine it an entirely different way.

It's kind of how I've really started to like clips as well. I don't need to see closeup, explicit. Give me enough to feed my imagination and keep me intrigued. Be vocal, and say what's on your mind if you can't elude to it visually somehow.
 

zippypinhead

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Thanks for the replies. Definitely a few intriguing suggestions so far I haven't watched, and will check out. I'd forgotten The Haunting of Hill House and The Terror, which have been on my to-watch list for a while. I keep hearing good things about Hannibal, too, and didn't know it was a Brian Fuller thing. I really like his work, so I'm definitely giving that a look.

I've been watching Lovecraft Country lately. It's actually what prompted this thread. It's interesting enough, but it's just so... on the nose. Honestly, it plays out more like a CW drama than the "prestige television" it's supposed to be. Actually, I'd say CW has a better track record with horror than HBO. HBO doesn't seem to handle straight horror very well.
 
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I'm gonna give the Korean "Kingdom" a shot.
By the way, in terms of movies, Dr.Sleep from 2019 was a very pleasant sequel to The Shining because it didn't try to be The Shinning, or outdo it. Ewan McGregor didn't try to be Jack Nicholson, and the film resembled more of a Polansky thriller than a Kubrick movie, and in a good way.
There were some horror shorts in "Love Death and Robots" that I really liked (One of the best tv shows I've seen this year by the way).
Lovecraft Country started off real good, and then the talking just never ended:)
I just wish for a horror film or a series that will tell a story in pictures, and not spoon feed the audience, or have excessive voice overs as if we're 8 year olds watching a new Spider-Man release. Is that too much to ask for?
 

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If you’re okay with anime, Naoki Urasawa's Monster is absolutely fantastic. It’s more of a psychological thriller rather than straight up horror, but the writing is phenomenal and there’s some rather unsettling parts. Pacing is great, too. It’s 70 or so episodes long and it doesn’t have really any filler content like a lot of anime does. It definitely drip feeds you information and lays on the mystery right up until the last episode. I don’t want to say anything about the plot because pretty much anything I can say will spoil some part of it. I’d recommend going into it with as little knowledge of the plot as possible. It does look a bit dated, but honestly I think the animation style works in it’s favor.

All of the episodes should be on YouTube.
 
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I just wish for a horror film or a series that will tell a story in pictures, and not spoon feed the audience, or have excessive voice overs as if we're 8 year olds watching a new Spider-Man release. Is that too much to ask for?
+1 for that! I loved The Americans because of this, because there was an enormous amount of dialogue and storytelling going on - all the time - without anyone speaking a word.
We don't need to talk about the fact that my early teenage years have become the setting for a period costume drama 🤔🧐😝

(Sorry, off topic!)
 

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Accidently binged the entire season of Haunting of Bly Manor yesterday. A lot of reviewers didn't like it, but I loved it. People say it's too slow and boring. It's true there are few jump scares. I am a jumpy person and I only jumped once, in episode 8. It does, indeed, take its time, but this is something I enjoy. It's different than its predecessor Haunting of Hill House, but equally good, imo. The atmosphere is heavy, tension thick, characters sympathetic, and the slow burn kept me wanting more. If you're familiar with this type of horror, you will probably figure things out relatively quickly, but even so, seeing how the story plays out is very satisfying. Major themes include guilt, loss, love, and grief.

It has a Jane Eyre and Edgar Allen Poe vibe, which makes sense as its considered to be a gothic horror. I admit I am heavily biased towards this genre. It also feels a bit like The Others and The Skeleton Key
 
I started paying for a subscription to SHUDDER. I also love that they have a 'SHUDDER TV' feature, which is 24 hour streaming of movies from SHUDDER's list. The last one I watched was The Cleansing Hour, and I really enjoyed it!
 
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zippypinhead

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I should resub to Shudder. I had it through VRV a while back, and watched the first couple seasons of Channel Zero. I wouldn't mind checking out the new Joe Bob Briggs shows.
 

zippypinhead

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I finished Lovecraft Country. I figured out while watching it what the problem I'm having with TV horror breaks down to -- it's too often not actually horror. Lovecraft Country isn't horror. It's dark urban fantasy. I still have the same complaints about it that I had in my earlier post. It's muddled melodrama. It's just, "find the McGuffin to stop Ultimate Evil," with a few bare tits and exploding bodies thrown in to let us know it's HBO. I don't know what it is about JJ Abrams, but it seems like everything I go in wanting to like, but ultimately end up being disappointed by, has his name in the credits.

Most of the reviews you read about it tend to have a headline like "Racism is the real horror in Lovecraft Country," and honestly that's the most interesting thing about the show. I appreciate that pretty much every single white character is simply an unhinged maniac. It's blunt as a sledgehammer in driving the point home, but effective.

Overall, interesting, but not great, and not horror.

I've moved on to The Terror, and also found NOS4A2. I'm a couple episodes into each. The Terror at least has a bleakness to it so far that I like. NOS4A2, like Lovecraft Country, is more dark fantasy than horror. It's more cartoonish and ridiculous, and I can't get over the fact that the supposed-to-be-17-year-old protagonist looks like she's nearly 30 (because the actress is nearly 30.) She gives off serious Lorde vibes, too (omg conspiracy?!) Still, it's dumb fun.

The search continues for great TV horror. Gonna look at the Haunting Of seasons next.
 

zippypinhead

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It just needs to be something told with less text and dialogue, and with an emphasis on the story:) Love Craft County was a flop. I wish Dark Horse Comics' Harrow County was made into a TV show instead.

Exposition really is a big key in what separates horror from not-horror. Lovecraft Country is pretty bad about over-explaining. No subtext; just text. NOS4A2 is even worse. It's like whoever is writing this stuff is worried about being subtle and risking people missing out on their super cool ideas.

I'm with you on that, Dan. People way too often forget that old axiom in visual storytelling -- show, don't tell.
 
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In general, subtlety is increasingly becoming a lost art. People don't have the time/energy to think about reading between the lines or they just don't care to. As we continue to move towards instant gratification and availability of info, there is a loss of appreciation in nuance and the beauty of ideas. People's attention spans are decreasing and we no longer wish to spend time watching something that goes in depth. We would rather have the gist without caring for the deeper connections. We might think "Oh, I'll look that up later. I'll read about it in depth when I have more time." But we typically don't because some other thing has already grabbed our attention.

This bleeds into what we consume for our entertainment. Action packed movies sell really well because a person can just zone out and be constantly stimulated without requiring any energy/thought on their part. A good slow burn movie/show combined with interesting ideas is so risky to make because there's less of a market for it. It will likely lose money because it will be competing with something that doesn't require thought. Imagine if Hitchcock, Lynch, or Kubrick movies were made today. Do you think their movies would be successful in today's market?

Within the horror genre, instant gratification takes the form of jump scares or gore. You don't have to envision yourself in the situation. You don't have to wonder what the monster looks like or what it's capable of. You're given a story with full exposition and you don't have to waste resources on using your imagination. People pay to be scared and they are.

It is a luxury to be able to have the time/energy required to indulge in more cerebral media. There are so many other things that are constantly vying for our attention and we feel as though we must do it all in order to keep up with our peers. To an extent, this is true. If you don't keep up, you'll be left behind. If you're exhausted by life pressures, engaging your mind in something that requires mental energy isn't exactly appealing. Sidenote: The amount of cartoons and Disney movies I've rewatched this year as a grown woman without children is a bit embarrassing. Those who have the resources (money, time, energy, community, etc) to not worry about how they're going to be able to simply just live their life tend to be better able to engage in media that's more intellectually demanding. Fewer and fewer people are able to comfortably live their lives; thus, there are fewer people who have the privilege to enjoy "higher" forms of entertainment. I don't know why, I just felt it was important to point out this privilege. I guess because it's not something that I see discussed much anywhere and I have a tendency to ramble.

I wish Dark Horse Comics' Harrow County was made into a TV show instead.

Are you typically into graphic novels? If so, I highly recommend Fatale. It's a favorite of mine and I feel you would enjoy it based upon your posts here.
 
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It is a luxury to be able to have the time/energy required to indulge in more cerebral media. There are so many other things that are constantly vying for our attention and we feel as though we must do it all in order to keep up with our peers. To an extent, this is true. If you don't keep up, you'll be left behind. If you're exhausted by life pressures, engaging your mind in something that requires mental energy isn't exactly appealing. Sidenote: The amount of cartoons and Disney movies I've rewatched this year as a grown woman without children is a bit embarrassing. Those who have the resources (money, time, energy, community, etc) to not worry about how they're going to be able to simply just live their life tend to be better able to engage in media that's more intellectually demanding. Fewer and fewer people are able to comfortably live their lives; thus, there are fewer people who have the privilege to enjoy "higher" forms of entertainment. I don't know why, I just felt it was important to point out this privilege. I guess because it's not something that I see discussed much anywhere and I have a tendency to ramble.

I wouldn't say it's a luxury or a privilege to be able to enjoy shows/movies that make you think. Rather, it's a personal choice as you stated earlier because people want the instant gratification or would rather just sit and waste away instead of doing something else. I've never really been one to sit down and watch TV on a regular basis, so it was not worth it for me to get Cable or Satellite TV. I constantly miss out on references to shows or movies from friends or coworkers, and don't really care. I would rather spend my time doing other things such as exercise, work around the home, read a book, listen to music, volunteer my time, etc. instead of sitting on my ass. Nor do I care to remember every line or be able to throw out quotes of different movies on a whim like many people can do.
 
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I wouldn't say it's a luxury or a privilege to be able to enjoy shows/movies that make you think. Rather, it's a personal choice as you stated earlier because people want the instant gratification or would rather just sit and waste away instead of doing something else. I've never really been one to sit down and watch TV on a regular basis, so it was not worth it for me to get Cable or Satellite TV. I constantly miss out on references to shows or movies from friends or coworkers, and don't really care. I would rather spend my time doing other things such as exercise, work around the home, read a book, listen to music, volunteer my time, etc. instead of sitting on my ass. Nor do I care to remember every line or be able to throw out quotes of different movies on a whim like many people can do.
The instant gratification ties into stress levels. It's similar in thought to the theory behind eating certain foods when one is stressed. Stressors in one's life will often dictate their choices from food to entertainment. In the comparison of food and entertainment, "thinking" entertainment is akin to healthy food options while more "fun" entertainment can be compared to junk food. There is nothing wrong with desiring instant gratification/"junk". The "wrongness" is derived from why an individual craves and needs that instant gratification. In some people, this is caused solely from outside forces. In others, it's been cultivated from their own life experiences and expectations. In others, they were born with a predisposition to this and overcoming it is its own set of challenges.

Is it so bad if people choose to spend their lives "wasting away"? Perhaps this is a small pleasure for them because their lives have been so shit. Perhaps they have far too many other stressors. As long as they are happy and are not causing harm to others, then does it really matter? Of course one could argue that it does cause overall harm in society due to the whole companies appeal to the masses thing, but I would then argue that in a more egalitarian society, there would be less stressors...but I feel this conversation is already far beyond the scope of this thread.
 

zippypinhead

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I dunno about all that. We're supposed to be in some sort of "golden age" of prestige TV, right? And there are plenty of shows that understand the pacing of a long-form narrative, and seem to be able to keep up a bit of intrigue, and they're much ballyhooed and plenty popular. I think it has less to do with the culture, and more to do with the people making the work. I think it comes down to intentions, and in many cases, ability. I mean, JJ Abrams clearly believes he's better at building a mystery than I think he is, for example.

I'm willing to give most TV horror a shot; it's a favorite genre of mine. But, as is the case with long-term interests, I've grown more acutely aware of what I like, and what I'm looking for. That's why I put the question out there, so I can find stuff I haven't already seen, and that other people recommend (and also give my own input into what I have seen.)
 

zippypinhead

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I'm happy for the discussion, either way, whether it's recommendations, or opinions. It's all bound to lead folks to something they enjoy.
 
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Are you typically into graphic novels? If so, I highly recommend Fatale. It's a favorite of mine and I feel you would enjoy it based upon your posts here.
Thanks! I'm a sucker for everything Ed Brubaker is involved with:) Gonna check it out later.

I think that every golden age of cinema, music, and TV had a lot of crap on the charts simultaneously with the good stuff. I mean no one remembers Clint Eastwood for Bonanza, but that's where he actually started. For every Hitchcock masterpiece, there were at least 50 movies with voice overs, and kids getting eaten by the predecessor of the Creature from The Black Lagoon. For every good Elvis hit, there probably were hundreds of 2:55 minute songs about the same lollipop.
My way of getting over this is to find sleeper horror films that got a very average or low rating on IMDB, they tend to be original sometimes, like "I'm not a Serial Killer" or "The Autopsy of Jane Doe", because they make up their limits of locations and characters with a good and solid story.
 
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zippypinhead

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I think that every golden age of cinema, music, and TV had a lot of crap on the charts simultaneously with the good stuff. I mean no one remembers Clint Eastwood for Bonanza, but that's where he actually started. For every Hitchcock masterpiece, there were at least 50 movies with voice overs, and kids getting eaten by the predecessor of the Creature from The Black Lagoon. For every good Elvis hit, there probably were hundreds of 2:55 minute songs about the same lollipop.
My way of getting over this is to find sleeper horror films that got a very average or low rating on IMDB, they tend to be original sometimes, like "I'm not a Serial Killer" or "The Autopsy of Jane Doe", because they make up their limits of locations and characters with a good and solid story.

I love schlock. I'm definitely not snobby about this stuff. Honestly, the 50s movies with voieovers and kids getting eaten by rubber-suited monsters are unironically my jam. And I don't want to be misunderstood; I think there are a lot of very entertaining horror shows out there, even (often especially) if they are ridiculous. However, sometimes you just recognize a void in a given genre, where something that seems like a natural fit hasn't presented itself to you. It doesn't mean it's not out there, which is why I'm asking. There's lots of great anthologies, and lots of great monster-of-the-week. There's some amazing horror comedy, Gothic horror, and genre mashups. I may currently be looking for something specific, but I'm fine talking about it all.

There have been plenty of great suggestions made so far. I'm still watching several shows mentioned in this thread so far, and plan to do so through my winter layoff. It'll be nice to have a span of downtime to get to stuff, since I don't really binge.
 
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Has anyone seen the series Homecoming with Julia Roberts in the first season? I don't know if it fits the definition of horror, but it has a slow buildup of "things-are-not-right-here" and increasing peril. My favorite part was all the homages to Hitchcock. It has the premise he often used, the main character is an average, flawed person in an average situation who finds themselves in an increasingly weird and tense situation. The second season is great in a different way. The main character wakes up in a rowboat in the middle of the lake - can't remember who she is or how she got there. The more she pieces together, the more she realises she's in deep shit. But, having seen the first series, the viewers are ahead of her (or think we are) - so we're screaming "NO, DON'T TRUST THEM! DO NOT GO IN THERE!" at the screen.
 
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Has anyone seen the series Homecoming with Julia Roberts in the first season? I don't know if it fits the definition of horror, but it has a slow buildup of "things-are-not-right-here" and increasing peril. My favorite part was all the homages to Hitchcock. It has the premise he often used, the main character is an average, flawed person in an average situation who finds themselves in an increasingly weird and tense situation. The second season is great in a different way. The main character wakes up in a rowboat in the middle of the lake - can't remember who she is or how she got there. The more she pieces together, the more she realises she's in deep shit. But, having seen the first series, the viewers are ahead of her (or think we are) - so we're screaming "NO, DON'T TRUST THEM! DO NOT GO IN THERE!" at the screen.

This sounds like something I'd be interested in watching. Might have to check it out.
 
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zippypinhead

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I suppose this has opened up to more of a general horror/suspense thread, so can I just say, What We Do in the Shadows (the series) is amazing and hilarious.

ALSO: The soundtrack is pretty great.
 
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