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Has horror ever truly succeeded on the small screen?

Written by TV

Horror is a genre that has shown that it can work time and time again, as seen in movies like Ari Aster’s Hereditary, books like Stephen King’s IT and games like Outlast.

So why is such a massive genre, in comparison, not as widely discussed in TV? In a time where people are obsessed with horror, there seems to be no buzz in that area, despite such shows being successful. The only people who seem to be capitalising on this are Netflix with numerous shows in production, the latest being Ares.

Horror has been the basis for many groundbreaking TV shows that became fan favourites. The Walking Dead, before becoming more action-oriented, was primarily a horror show and the first season is what put it on the map. In its more recent seasons, the show seems to be trying to recapture some of that fear, and critics have loved it. American Horror Story is another great example, the anthology series still widely watched with its most popular season, Asylum, gaining a staggering 3 million+ views for its pilot episode. These shows have been cultural phenomenons that millions have loved to watch and discuss.

Stranger Things is another fantastic example of horror in television with some intense moments and monsters

In more recent years, Netflix has taken the lead as far as horror goes. Most prominent is the terrifying Haunting of Hill House which not only was a critical success but showed that horror can work on TV, the show successfully scaring audiences from start to finish. The show will return this year so get your pillow ready to hide behind! The two seasons of Scream were also wildly popular and a faithful adaptation of the iconic 1996 slasher. Stranger Things is another fantastic example of horror in television with some intense moments and monsters, especially in the first two seasons. One of the scariest moments came from Season 2 Episode 8 with the climax of Bob’s attempted escape. Thanks to the show having the time to build up the fan-favourite character, which is harder to do in a movie, we had the fear of wondering what is going to happen to him.

Haunting of Hill House is set to get a new season called Haunting of Bly Manor.

Netflix is set to continue this trend of horror shows/shows set to give us all kinds of exciting projects, including the recently released Ares. The Dutch psychological horror follows two best friends who join a secret student society with deep secrets, not just about the school, but their country as a whole. While some reviews for it may be a bit iffy, Rotten Tomatoes has an audience rating of 76% showing that this is a show that may appeal to fans of other horror shows on the streaming service. As mentioned earlier, Haunting of Hill House is set to get a new season called Haunting of Bly Manor. The sequel, similar to how the first season was based loosely on the novel by Shirley Jackson, is apparently based upon the texts of Henry James and won’t follow the Crain Family, similar to how AHS does its seasons. Some of the scares in the first season have become iconic works of horror so hopefully, the second season will keep this trend going and show how TV can scare the pants off anyone just as much as a movie, if not more.

Credit: IMDb

Clearly horror can work in television for several different reasons, like fearing for the safety of characters that we’ve had time to become attached to and building tension expertly throughout. But at the same time, horror TV can fail, and fail hard. Horror on TV fails when it tries to explain too much and ends up becoming boring. A great horror movie only has to keep up tension for 2 hours but a show has to try and keep that throughout an entire season, rebuilding it every single episode. While making a horror show is hard, if done right it can succeed in more ways than one, the most likely being me crying in a corner.

Last modified: 24th February 2020

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