Best-selling author Emma Larsimon announces at the launch of her latest novel that she is finished with writing horror and is ready to move on to something new. The trouble is, her dark muse, the witch Marianne, isn't ready to let Emma stop telling her story.
Emma has had nightmares about Marianne since she was a child, and writing about her nightmares has brought her great success as a writer, but now they have come back to haunt her again. When an old school friend, Caroline, turns up Emma's book signing event with a bag full of human teeth, this sets in motion a chain of events that brings Emma back to her home town of Elden to face her demons.
Marianne is a French horror series directed by Samuel Bodin, which was released on Netflix, appropriately on Friday the 13th of September, 2019. It stars Victoire du Bois as Emma, the fashionable young writer with a devil-may-care attitude, and Lucie Boujenah as her mousy assistant, Camille, who deserves ten times whatever Emma's publishers are paying her to put up with all this crap.
There are eight episodes in total. In the first one, Emma drags Camille back to Elden, where they have a bizarre and terrifying visit with Caroline's mother.
While I am intrigued to know what happened in Emma's past, and why Marianne is haunting her, I found myself becoming irritated with the cheap tricks used to scare or startle the viewer. For example, there are single-frame shots of Marianne inserted which I suppose are meant to subliminally make the viewer afraid, but I'd rather they brought the scares the old fashioned way using clever writing and good performances. It also doesn't help that Marianne's appearance strikes me as more comical than scary. It's the googly eyes. I get the sense that she is scary to Emma because she's her childhood nightmare, in the way that things that get to you as a child can be scary to you specifically even if they don't seem that bad to anybody else.
That being said, this show does bring the creepy at times. The living room scene, in particular, made me give a little squeal. Marianne is beautifully shot, and the interiors are very atmospheric. That Emma grew up in that weird old house, with the lighthouse shining through her window at night, would be enough by itself to create a horror author. The toilet at Camille's parents' house, with its floral wallpaper and brass door handle in the shape of a grinning face belongs on the Toilets With Threatening Auras Instagram page. Marianne is a promising new horror series. Although I thought the first episode relied a little too much on cheap scares I am very curious to find out Emma's back story and see what happens next.