It’s time to binge on scary TV shows. So dim the lights and see how many seasons you can make it through before the scares prove too much. Don’t worry: It’s just a show… right?
This MTV series is directly inspired by the Wes Craven slasher movie franchise. When a killer starts praying on a group of teenagers in a small town, a young woman at the centre of the killings must try to unmask the assassin before it’s too late. In the vein of Scream Queens and American Horror Story – or, for that matter, the 1990s movies on which it’s based – if you can’t appreciate the silliness that goes hand-in-hands with the scares, you’re doing it wrong.
2. Bates Motel
Another series inspired by a successful horror film, Bates Motel is a prequel, of sorts, to Hitchcock’s Psycho. Ever wonder what Norman Bates was like back when Mother was still alive? Your prayers have been answered. Freddie Highmore, as Norman, and Vera Farmiga, as Norma, have both garnered serious praise for their performances.
3. American Horror Story
American Horror Story has been making waves since its 2011 premiere. Though the actors, for the most part, remain the same, each season presents viewers with a new and seriously creepy setting and plot. Towing the line between campy and scary, look to S2, Asylum, if you really want to amp up the fear factor.
What if there actually had been witches back in Salem, Massachusetts all those years ago… and what if they were the ones driving the town’s inhabitants mad with fear and paranoia? If you manage to make it through both seasons on Netflix in time, S3 premiered in the US recently on WGN America.
5. Penny Dreadful
Penny Dreadful is a disorienting, terrifying, and surprisingly human drama, as a ragtag group of anti-heroes attempt to battle evil forces in Victorian England. Keep an eye out for appearances from such literary favourites as Frankenstein, Dorian Gray, and Dracula.
6. Jessica Jones
Lesser known Marvel superhero Jessica Jones opens her own detective agency in this noir crime thriller, which Netflix renewed for a second season in January.
This British crime drama, in the vein of The Fall, features a damaged detective anti-hero, the titular Marcella, trying to track down a serial killer. Adding to the suspense is the fact that Marcella has a type of selective amnesia, and can’t remember important details about her own dark past.
8. The Fall
Detective Stella Gibson gets caught in a terrifying cat-and-mouse game with psychopathic serial-killer-disguised-as-family-man Paul Spector. Jamie Dornan gives a particularly disturbing performance as Spector, who prays on young women by night, while tending to his own young daughter and son by day.
The twisted chemistry between Gillian Anderson’s Gibson and Jamie Dornan’s Spector makes for intensely suspenseful and compelling television. When you’re done bingeing, check out the S3 trailer.
9. The Killing
Set in – appropriately – dark and moody Seattle in the US, this dark and moody crime drama follows the exploits of detectives Linden and Holder, as they investigate the murder of a local girl, a political conspiracy, and more. Once again, the high quality acting elevates this show out of the cut-and-paste crime procedural, and into the realm of intense human drama.
No one does crime drama quite like this Brits. In this case, it’s Luther, an intense, gritty, psychological thriller. Lead actor Idris Elba has garnered major praise for his portrayal of the titular Luther, an obsessive and dedicated cop.
11. Twin Peaks
This 1990s cult show captivated audiences with it’s signature David Lynch-ian weirdness, and it plays just as well today. Though technically a crime drama, Twin Peaks also enters the realm of the truly horrifying and bizarre with its psychedelic dream sequences. Finish seasons 1 and 2 in time to catch the new season, premiering on Showtime in the US 25 years after the show’s initial release, in early 2017.
12. Stranger Things
The most hyped show of summer 2016, Stranger Things has already been renewed for a second season on Netflix. In the 1980s, a young boy disappears in the small town of Hawkins, Indiana. Otherworldly monsters, alternate universes, a super-human little girl, and government conspiracies abound.
13. Black Mirror
Described as “The Twilight Zone of the digital age”, Black Mirror, a cutting and utterly terrifying commentary on our reliance on technology, will mess with your mind. It’ll also make you think twice about picking up your iPhone. Hurry up and finish the first three seasons, because new episodes are being released on Netflix!
14. The X-Files
What’s any list of scary TV shows without a mention of The X-Files? Equal parts sci-fi, horror, and detective drama, this classic show is just as fun to revisit as it is to watch for the first time. No cop/agent/detective pairing today can rival that of Agents Scully and Mulder, who work for a fringe division of the FBI that deals with, shall we say, highly atypical cases. – Reuters/The LineUp/Aliza Polkes
This story was originally featured on The-Line-Up.com. The LineUp is the premiere digital destination for fans of true crime, horror, the mysterious, and the paranormal.