It’s always great to find horror content that is *actually* scary, like ‘scare a desensitized adult with decades of genre nerding out’ scary. France’s Netflix original series Marianne is most definitely scary as fuck, one of the qualities that makes it stand out amidst the multitudinous ranks of horror material streaming out there. What it also has is strong, emotionally rich storytelling, a unique and sometimes disorienting but organic way of presenting its story, characters with depth, compassion and complexity and a kind of meta storyline that feels like a tale within a tale at times, like King’s In The Mouth Of Madness or the like. Emma (Victoire DuBois) is a famous horror novelist whose work has taken her from the sleepy seaside town of Elden to big city Paris for book tours, autograph seminars and overall big-shot writer lifestyle. Her many books tell the ongoing story of nasty pagan witch Marianne, a monstrous force of evil who, it turns out, isn’t just a creation out of Emma’s imagination but is a very real entity from her childhood and that of all her friends back home she’s become so estranged from. This leads her on a journey back to Elden to reconnect with her friends, discover just how real (and how fucking terrifying) Marianne is, what she’s been up to and what can be done to end her reign of unholy terror over the town and everyone in her life. The story starts off jaggedly and it can be tricky to get a sense of (gotta keep up with those snappy subtitles) at first but once she’s settled back into Elden the magic really happens. Emma is a confident, assured and independent woman who has the rug of her cavalier personality yanked from under her when it becomes clear what a force to be reckoned with Marianne is, and Dubois’s performance is one of emotional resilience, startling vulnerability and aching sex appeal. Marianne herself takes several different forms, each more hair raising than the last and is really a fascinating character once the mythology fully unfolds. I won’t beat around the bush: this is one fucking scary ass show, and I *dare* you not to be totally freaked out by the makeup effects (those bulging eyes), shocked by the relentless, very efficient jump scares and just immersed in the overall atmosphere. There’s also a deep emotional core emanating from out of all the horror, as we see Emma’s varying relationships to her many childhood friends, how each bond is tested by time and the evil surrounding them. The town of Elden (actually the port of Doëlen) feels real and mysterious, complete with its own spooky lighthouse, as every small coastal town in a horror film should. The story is one full of mystery, pathos, hurt, horror, super high stakes (Marianne is one ruthless being with absolutely no regard for compassion or mercy) and just… everything about it *works.* Could not recommend this highly enough.