Why Netflix’s Marianne is the scariest show we’ve seen

Photo: Marianne - Emmanuel Guimier/Netflix
Photo: Marianne - Emmanuel Guimier/Netflix /

Horror lovers are falling for the French series Marianne on Netflix. Here’s why it’s so terrifying.

The synopsis for Marianne is “a famous horror writer who is lured back to her hometown discovers that the evil spirit who plagues her dreams is now wreaking havoc in the real world.” This description appropriately summarizes the early events of the series, but there’s so much more to love!

While French horror isn’t as known for genre contributions, Marianne is truly horror at its core and we’re fully prepared to elaborate. Here’s why viewers are finding this series so haunting.

The use of dreams

One of the most underrated, but highly effective storytelling methods can come from the power of dream sequences. In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, dreams indicated a prophecy. In the film Inception, dreams were a driving force behind the entire plot. And now, Marianne explores that level of importance in the dream-state.

The recurring images in our protagonist Emma Larsimon’s dreams include a hole in the ground, a particularly frightening witch with glowing eyes, and similarities to reality that make it hard to decipher when she’s dreaming. From the premiere episode, the subtleties of her first time dreaming about Marianne again are spine chilling moments that properly showcase the uncomfortable setting the series introduces its viewers to.

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All the way through the ending, these dreams are actively important to the series and show no signs of wavering. Anything recurring is for good reason, and Marianne navigates the unique aspects of dreams in a way that will leave you anxious to see what comes around every corner.

The character of Marianne is especially spooky

Witches are another element of horror that, when done right, can be a great approach for scares. Witches are hit and miss in films, with some like Lords of Salem, Blair Witch or Suspiria being some of the most successful at adding the creep factor to horror films. Series on the other hand are often a struggle to do well, but Marianne completely trumped the typical witch/horror inclusions.

MORE: Marianne on Netflix: What happens in that bizarre ending?

The woman playing a vessel for Marianne (Mireille Herbstmeyer) is one of the best strengths of the series, from her first scene making viewers instantly uncomfortable. She can rip out her own teeth, leave a cursed object at your door or simply smile in the eeriest of ways and make the series feel like every moment impresses. Even in the scene after the death of a Larsimon, the actress sits covered in blood giggling with a wide smile that requires no special effects. The images she creates is enough to trigger nightmares, and without Herbstmeyer being involved, who knows if anyone could have emulated that same level of fear.

Photo: Marianne – Emmanuel Guimier/Netflix
Photo: Marianne – Emmanuel Guimier/Netflix /

More promising than most horror (film and television)

Something interesting about the horror genre is that today is very difficult to find something that genuinely scares you. There’s been a lull in the genre because of the sometimes repetitious choices made.

In television, even when horror series are enjoyable (Haunting of Hill House, AHS, etc.) they are more creepy than scary. Television has a difficult time pulling off the surprising jolts of horror that make the genre enticing to begin with.

Marianne makes each episode feel like a film in a sense that the cinematography receives a much deserved emphasis. The series atmosphere is set in large part by the visuals of Marianne and when paired with the accomplishment of avoiding over-sharing (horror tends to do that) it makes the series unlike anything we’ve ever seen.

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If this lesser known french series can top big budget properties in film and television, it serves as a reminder that real, successful horror still exists. Marianne is currently available to stream on Netflix and if we’re lucky, we’ll be watching a second season that’s perfectly set-up in the near future.

Are you finding Marianne to be as scary as us? Let us know below!