Pros: classic techniques of intimidating viewers were successfully used; gloomy atmosphere; flashbacks; original presentation; actors Cons: nasty moments; too many episodes for such a story “Marianne” / Marianne
Creators Samuel Boden, Quoc Dang Chan
Cast: Victoire Du Bois (Emma), Lucie Boujenat (Camille), Tiffen Daviau (Aurora), Ralph Amoussou (Sebi), Mehdi Mescar (Tonio), Mireille Herbstmeier (Madame Degeron), Clara Bryman (Marianne), Alban Lenoir (Inspector Ronan), Patrick d’Asumsao (priest), etc.
Year of release 2019
The French series was released on the streaming service back in September, but due to the specifics of the genre and the lack of famous names in the cast, few people paid attention to it. Unexpectedly, Stephen King helped with the promotion, posting his praise for “Marianne” on Twitter. According to the writer, the series will appeal to those who like to be scared. King can be trusted on this.
So, the plot of the series introduces a young best-selling author named Emma. She writes novels about the creepy witch Marianne, hiding the fact that this character appeared to her in a dream. Emma decides to end horror and announces her intention to move on to creating more serious literature. Her plans are interrupted by the sudden appearance of a school friend who demands the writer’s return to her hometown of Elden. The crazy woman claims that the witch from the books exists in real life, and by this time Marianne has taken over the man’s body. Emma tries to ignore the obsessive demands of the madwoman, but soon a tragedy occurs, and the main character, against her wishes, has to visit Elden.
When the series takes place in a seaside town with a lighthouse towering above it, it becomes clear that viewing will not be easy. In “Marianne” there are a large number of moments hidden for the audience that plunge them into growing tension and palpable discomfort (it’s not for nothing that Stephen King wrote the praise).
Gradually, another intrigue is added to the plot about the witch – 15 years ago in Elden, something happened to the main character and her friends that they prefer not to remember. It is worth noting that the writers use this line with events from the past with great cunning, keeping those who are thinking about stopping watching the series. Interest in the hidden secret can overcome aversion to certain details.
Showrunner Samuel Bodin (previously worked on the French television project Lazy Company) actively uses nasty visual elements, turning them into an additional way to intimidate the viewer. At the same time, Boden also excels at classic horror film techniques: the series is filled with scenes of anticipation, peering into the darkness and the fear of seeing something terrible. The showrunner takes advantage of the fact that he doesn’t have the time constraints that feature-length horror does, and generously peppers the series with lengthy episodes that test the endurance of even the most die-hard horror fans.
The most powerful effect is produced by the performance of the artist Miria Herbstmeier – she transforms into a woman whose body is taken by the witch Marianne. The result is truly creepy. Herbstmeyer’s facial expressions and speech are so sinister that even the computer graphics, which are also present in the series, cannot surpass them.
The daring writer Emma with a complex character and addiction to alcohol is played by Victoire Du Bois (appeared in the film Call Me by Your Name). The character type is not new at all, but it really suits Victoire. She, like other actors from the main cast, does not overact in moments of fright, believably getting used to her role.
Separately, I would like to mention the structure of the series, which collected the most common elements of horror, but at the same time turned out to be original in its own way. Since Marianne has many plot lines and characters, Samuel Boden moves from scene to scene using page turns, which helps the viewer quickly shift attention. Sometimes this is really necessary, since the overall atmosphere of the story is extremely dark, but there are moments in everyday life in the series that stand out from the horror concept. They have a brisk pace, vibrant color rendering and even a passing humor. Because of this, some episodes differ in the shooting style, which is very noticeable, but does not become a minus of the series. Rather, it is a feature of it.
But distributing the script over eight episodes seems like a clear overkill. If the series had been a couple of hours shorter, its terrifying techniques would have worked until the very last minute. But this also has its advantages – the creators had plenty of time to reveal the story of an evil force (which is often neglected in horror films) and even leave a clue for a possible sequel (although this may not have been worth doing).
“Marianne” is one of the scariest TV series in recent years. It contains many intense scenes, so only horror fans will likely enjoy watching it