body horror

[Netflix Review] Marianne Season 1 (2019) ★★★★☆

Emma, Seby, Aurore and Arnaud in Marianne season 1

Marianne delivers a terrifying gruesome occult horror story to chill to the bones. 


Marianne is a French supernatural occult horror Netflix Original series. With a big mystery underneath the storyline involving a witch and disturbing things that are happening, the series delivers some real good scares, jump scares and an overall creepy ominous atmosphere that creeps under your skin.

It has a pleasant structure and a buildup that intertwines the mystery and the horror, working towards a scary finale. Who’s in for a good scare, with a great well-crafted story and cinematography that enhances the weird and bizarre happenings, then this is the one to watch.

This first season consists of 8 episodes with each a duration of 36-52 minutes. It has one big continuous storyline that unravels the mystery about the witch and Emma. It is highly recommended to watch the series with its original French audio and with subtitles in your own language, if possible. 


Plot

Emma Larsimon is a celebrated writer of a horror book series about Lizzie Larch who battles the witch Marianne. But when a sudden suicide occurs that is related to her past, Emma goes back to her hometown and has to confront her parents and old friends and her own past. 

But the reason why Emma started to write horror books about Marianne, her nightmares about this witch, might have some truth to it. Marianne might be real and is coming to torment Emma, and everyone she loves. 


Why you should watch it

The series focuses on Emma, her past, what happend to her 15 years ago and what is happening now, which is all connected. It all leads back to the real witch Marianne. The mystery about present and past is woven into the story, that Emma wrote but is living right now. The connection between fiction and reality therefore becomes bigger and the fine lines between fiction and reality become thinner.

This connection between story and reality is also represented in a visual style, by using book pages to skim through the story and jump to the past or skip to the present. It’s an original way of using flashbacks to explain what happened 15 years ago. 

Those scenes from the past are a great addition to the story not only relating more background and unraveling the mystery but it also takes us back in time, with playful characters and a sinister incident. And it shows the special bond between the old group of friends, which is coming back with all those painful memories. 

Emma isn’t exactly a nice person. She’s crude, rude, selfish and stand-offish. It takes some time to getting used to her and to find something that you’ll like about her or can relate to. Though her character is different from what you are maybe used to, it’s also the strength of the series. It takes time to get to the bottom of her character, as of the mystery itself.

The series starts off with great horror scenes, jump scares, terrifying shots and relentless tension. But when Emma returns to Elden, for a while there’s some time to breathe. To get to know Emma, her parents and her friends, Nono, Seby, Aurore and Tonio. But we also get to know inspector Samuel Raunan, who also has an interest in witchcraft and the occult, who investigates the case of Caro’s suicide, Emma’s former friend. 

But soon the horror picks up again, extending to surreal, nightmare-like horror and terror, body horror that comes with witchcraft that can be very gross and a threatening and ominous atmosphere, it gets scarier as the story progresses. Marianne herself is a scary creepy witch that lives up to the classical view of a witch. She’s gross and vile and vicious and pure evil. The possession element delivers an original view and really elevates the storyline and scares.  

The beautiful cinematography certainly adds to the surreal creepy atmosphere. Great use of shadows and lighting create a dreamlike feel. Serene landscape shots and French music add to the overall typical French cinema style. It has some absurd humor, against a bleak backdrop and a serene quiet-like but foreboding tension. 

It has a very intriguing story with interesting characters, a creepy surreal style, great cinematography and a unique voice that delivers a great well-crafted horror series. 


My favorite part

I myself really liked Emma, because she’s an unconventional character and when you start to know her she slowly wins you over. Her relationship with Marianne is well-told and has some twists and very creepy revelations and scenes up its sleeve.

The part when Emma returns home to her parents, which is very awkward to begin with, because we don’t know what happened yet 15 years ago. But it is getting weirder and creepier by the minute one night. When her parents are bewitched and do the creepiest things, then the surreal spine-chilling horror begins. It’s wonderfully shot to make it as scary as can be and they succeeded beautifully. 

But it also has some moving moments and some very tense scenes, like the hiding in the school, which is very creepy after they did the seance. And the discovery in the backroom, that is vile and gross and horrifying. This series knows its horror and uses it to maximum effect telling a good story, which is enthralling and intriguing. 

It is such a shame that this series didn’t get a second season. It could have been a great addition to the horror genre, telling gruesome tales about witchcraft in the old sense. Luckily it doesn’t have a huge cliffhanger that needs to be answered, which makes this season also a stand alone story that is a must see for horror fans.


Ratings

Rating: ★★★★☆

Gore factor: ★★★★☆

Scare factor: ★★★★★

Gruesome factor: ★★★★☆


Cast and crew

Marianne is created, directed and written by Samuel Bodin. It stars Victoire Du Bois (Emma), Lucie Boujenah (Camile), Tiphaine Daviot (Aurore), Ralph Amoussou (Seby), Bellamine Abdelmalek (Arnaud), Mehdi Meskar (Tonio), Alban Lenoir (Samuel Ruanan) and Mireille Herbstmeyer (Madama Daugeron/Marianne).

Music: Thomas Cappeau. Cinematography: Philip Lozano. Production company: Empreinte Digitale, Federation Entertainment. Original network: Netflix.


Check the trailer below