You May Not Be Able To Handle These
“Who is this irresistible creature who has an insatiable love for the dead.” – “Living Dead Girl,” written by Rob Zombie for Bride of Chucky.
Yep, that song describes the quintessential horror fan. Fanatics know that intensity can be a big part of what we love about horror. Is it enough to make one tiptoe from room to room, trying to find out what that awful noise is? Is the audience quaking in fear? From Friday the 13th, the series to Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Dead Like Me, intensity makes films like these great. So, what could possibly keep them from being binge-worthy? It really depends on the franchise.
Researchers have studied the effects of horror on audiences, and while no difference was found in what kind of horror is watched and the quantity audiences watch, binging on horror does change the way members of an audience see the world. The point is, it does matter if a series is cringe-worthy, depressing, or holds a heavy embarrassment quotient. It can take a toll on members of the audience.
There are a million reasons why an audience might want breaks in between series’ episodes. These stories include excitement and themes like murder, sexual content, violence, and more. The best directors and actors can make you feel like the character’s friend. From fictional true crime to supernatural horror to gore horror, there are plenty of horrors to go around.
Here are the top ten horror series that are examples of not being binge-worthy.
9. Sookie Stackhouse of the Beautiful Faery & Bloody Bon Temps
True Blood is a vampire story adapted from the addictive Sookie Stackhouse Series, written by Charlaine Harris. While this series is spectacularly acted, has beautiful cinematography, and an exciting script, some parts of the story are difficult to watch.
True Blood is thrilling to watch. There is excitement, just enough surprise, and so much more. It is less dark and more witty and charming with a side of danger. At the time, True Blood was considered one of the most popular HBO series next to The Sopranos. It’s an interesting examination of life. There are laws that conflict with one another, an old hierarchy that works to survive amid humans trying to make their decisions for them, and the very real threat of extermination from extremists who use the language of faith to justify their violence.
There is some nudity and, as with most vampire stories, there is an undercurrent of sexuality. There is lots of blood, of course, and there are plenty of prosthetics and some sad stories. However, what puts this series on this list is the embarrassment factor. Watching Sookie go back and forth between Eric and Bill, then Alcide, and back again. There were intimate scenes with Bill, with Eric, and with Bill and Eric. She’s in love with one, in love with the other, in love with both.
Stream True Blood on HBO Max or HBO Max Prime Video.
8. Darkly Dreaming Dexter & The Ultimate Code
Our favorite, lovable serial killer next door is always busy killing the killers that should be gone from this Earth, so why is he on this list? Because as much as we love him, tragedy seems to follow him everywhere he goes. This is par for the course, right? The problem is that poor Dexter doesn’t seem to keep much good in his life for very long.
All of the tragedy that befalls Dexter is cringeworthy when we all want our handsome serial killer to catch a break! It always seems that if things start to go well for him; he might be able to quit killing. That, of course, never happens.
This series has addictive writing, exciting plot twists, and interesting characters. Dexter has been called one of the best first seasons of a television series ever. Most wouldn’t disagree. Dexter is handsome, intelligent, self-aware, and a blood spatter expert, so he fights criminals in his day job, too. What’s not to love? This is one of the first series to humanize a serial killer.
This screenplay was adapted for the series from the Darkly Dreaming Dexter series by author Jeff Lindsay.
You can stream Dexter on HBO Max or HBO Max on Prime Video.
7. Sabrina Spellman’s Chilling Adventures & Salem’s Happy Place
This is not the fuzzy, funny, and cutesy Sabrina we grew up with. This is an edgy version of Sabrina that has a dark side. There is violence, stabbing, blood, women hanging from trees, heavy kissing, and talk of sexuality. Dark witchcraft abounds, her aunts are much eviler than they seem, and she falls for someone who is not as good and kind as her townie boyfriend. Her school’s mascot is a gigantic Baphomet, and her live-in cousin is just as surprising.
Some positives included in the Sabrina series is that Sabrina’s character is a good role model for young girls in many ways. She is strong, stands up for herself to seriously scary foes, isn’t afraid to say what she means, is mature, is kind, and she doesn’t seem to care what others think of her as long as she is doing what she thinks is best.
Developed by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and based on the Archie comic book series, Sabrina was originally meant to be a CW companion to the Riverdale series. Sabrina makes this list because if one is not used to living with darkness swallowing up every spark of light there is, it can be too intense to go more than a couple of episodes at a time.
Watch The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina on Netflix as part of a subscription.
6. The Lightning Fingers of God & the Awesome Gary Sinise
From Randall Flagg’s smiley face pin to Pennywise symbolism, there is tons of deeper meaning in The Stand. There is even a lightning show as the hand of God. This series has so much symbolism it’s almost like studying as a student in a university literature class. This story is extremely cerebral. It’s so cerebral that it’s necessary to take a break between episodes.
Stephen King, the author of The Stand, originally wrote this story because he wanted to write an epic fantasy like The Lord of the Rings. Another inspiration for The Stand is the quote, “Once in every generation, the plague will fall among them.” King says he heard this from a radio sermon, which stirred him to write a story like The Stand. There were a lot of elements that went into producing an epic story like The Stand.
The Stand was inspired by a chemical spill in Utah in which 6,000 sheep dropped dead due to the military testing a nerve gas test that blew away from the base. This story is not a binge-worthy series. It’s just unending sadness, misery, symbolism, death, and gray skies for the whole series. The characters walk a lot, coming across dangers and other oddities along their route. The Stand is a beautiful piece of literature and series, but it is quite a lot, and you are patient and at a super-intelligent level if you can binge this show.
You can stream The Stand on Paramount+ or Paramount+ on Prime Video.
5. The Patient: Analysis in Insidious Symbolism & Archetypes
The Patient is a stunning series. It is intelligent and symbolic, and incredibly compelling. The plot concerns a serial killer who kidnaps his psychiatrist and holds him captive in his mother’s basement. Several scenes depict and link the current story with the Nazi Holocaust and more, so there is plenty of symbolism and sadness. The themes are all deep, and it’s difficult to get through more than one episode at a time. If you are looking for a light, airy, silly series, this is not the series for you. This series takes a lot of deep thinking, discomfort, and active watching to understand The Patient’s message.
Steve Carell, who plays Dr. Alan Strauss is so sympathetic that an audience member spends a lot of time yelling at the screen, demanding that the patient/serial killer let him go. The series shows Sam Fortner, the patient/serial killer, with a flat effect. He does and communicates everything as if it’s an everyday, normal occurrence. Fortner must know that it’s not normal because he kidnaps his psychiatrist to stop it from happening. So, it’s ironic that Fortner acts like there’s no big deal, but he is doing things that demonstrate the opposite.
Also, it’s compelling how certain characters (Fortner’s ex-wife and dad) don’t seem to add too much extra to the story, but they do allow the audience to humanize Fortner in their own minds. This is an important job. It’s easy for an audience member to say that Fortner’s ex-wife and dad should have been left out, but this can be deceiving. These details are important because they truly add to the framing of Fortner. These details allow the writer to add more dimension to the characters.
All episodes of The Patient are available now on FX on Hulu.
4. Hangin’ with the Dream King and Loving the Nightmares
The Sandman is an analytical and chimerical series adapted from the DC comic book of the same name written by the formidable Neil Gaiman. This Netflix series is a deep, thoughtful piece of vivid, illusory film. The subject matter included in the story is what we’ve all probably fantasized about, but this is taken to the next level. There are dreams within dreams, dreams within nightmares, nightmares within nightmares, and stories within stories.
This series is a unique idea that contains original delusion and thought. The characters are well thought out. He has no real gaps in his stories, which makes them believable for the audience. However, there are a few gaps in the television series. The Sandman is about what connects us all, no matter who we are, and Morpheus doesn’t speak. He’s the dream king and doesn’t want to wake anyone up.
With all this thinking and fantasy, the series is an exercise in making it through one episode, much less a binge. It has gorgeous cinematography, talented, well-known actors, excellent writing, and highly imagined costumes, so it is a series you don’t want to miss. Gaiman, known for his dream-like prose and poetry, has varied writing talents. He did some of the comic prose adaptation to the series script, so he was active in its making.
Some important warnings about sensitive material include blood, gore, violence, suicide, death, smoking, murder, nudity, stabbings, and sexual activity. A funny little tidbit is that according to DC Comics, The Sandman is a criminal who kills Spider-Man’s (Peter Parker’s) uncle. How in the world did they marry those two stories?
Fans can stream The Sandman now on Netflix.
3. Pazuzu, the Exorcist & the Devastating Regan MacNeil
This series is a continuation of Regan MacNeil’s story from the original 1973 film. This time MacNeil is an adult who is estranged from her mother and is now a mother to her own two daughters. Gina Davis plays MacNeil, who now goes by Angela Rance and has not told her family about her original exorcism. The series begins with one of Rance’s daughters being taken over by the same demon (Pazuzu) who originally took MacNeil. Pazuzu is angry because he feels she was stolen from him, and he has come to claim her. He begins trying to take her back by beginning with her daughter, Casey.
What makes this series un-binge-able? A few things. 1. The whole thing is sad. Casey doesn’t realize she has been tricked until she is tortured by Pazuzu, and by then, she has zero control over what is happening. 2. The whole family becomes entrapped by the demon, and the priest, who is supposed to be so promising, can’t control his own urges. 3. One of the people who is doing all kinds of evil to support the demon is betrayed over and over. 4. MacNeil/Rance seems to have no choice but to take the demon back. All of the good things you hope for the family is lost. The series is very entertaining, but it is hard to watch everything go downhill with no hope for power being restored to the good guys.
Stream The Exorcist, the series, on Hulu or on Prime Video.
2. The Remarkable Mass is Not Just an Eye-Opening Mass
Midnight Mass is a depressing movie that is never quite what you think it will until the very end. It’s pretty difficult to watch the beginning and keep going. What is that thing anyway? You’ve got to wait until the very end. Our longtime friend Annabeth Gish does an effortless job as the island Doctor, Hamish Linklater plays Father Paul, and all-American Henry Thomas plays a dad of a townsman that spends years in jail for drunk driving.
Midnight Mass is meaningful, like black equals evil and/or mystery in literature. Light can mean hope or renewal, and water can mean birth and life. You can see examples of this in Star Wars, The Hero, or The Great Gatsby. You can see many of these symbols and archetypes in Midnight Mass, so it is highly cerebral. Father Paul is able to use symbols and archetypes from the Bible and liken them to what is happening on the island.
You can see a demonstration of these symbols and archetypes in Midnight Mass on Netflix.
1. Presenting the Urbane Beauty of Hannibal the Cannibal
Hannibal is a glittering, vivid dramatization of a cannibalistic, evil, and brilliant psychiatrist. The makers of this series worked very hard to create the highest form of art with cinematography. There are scenes with highly contrasting colors or the backgrounds frozen and blurry, and the foreground moving slowly. The characters are inventively created and intensely played. There is plenty of red, thick, and sticky blood. The plots are clever and blazing with emotion. Everyone should see Hannibal at least once.
Mads Mikkelsen, a Danish actor, is astutely cast as Hannibal. Mikkelsen’s acting in this series is awe-inspiring and highly intense. Hugh Dancy plays the equivalent of the Clarice Starling character, Will Graham. Is his character a crime fighter, or is he a psycho? The highly esteemed Laurence Fishburne plays Jack Crawford. This series is absolutely interesting and gorgeous. The only drawback is that it is high intensity every millisecond. In fact, intense is a bit of an understatement. The severe, feverish quality of the story is not only in the plot but in every detail of the series. Hannibal is hard to watch because it is emotionally charged from beginning to end, with no break in sight. It’s hard to keep that kind of heart-stopping, high adrenaline reaction for so long. While this series lives up to every expectation and should be watched, it’s still not a series that anyone would find easy to binge. Many audience members agreed because it was canceled in the third season due to low viewership.
To see what you’ve been missing, stream Hannibal on Hulu.
Some of these series on this list are considered some of the best, and I’m sure some of them have been binged on, but there are very good reasons why some might not want to. What is the most recent series you have binged on? Did you get out the snacks, pour the sodas over ice, and take a restroom break so that you wouldn’t have to stop the episodes any more than necessary? Was it Archive 81, Bates Motel, or Brand New Cherry Flavor?
Our favorite shows can create an evil hero who seems sympathetic at first look. He has a friendly face and a lovely smile, but look closer, and you see the evil within. Just like in the series Lucifer, an audience may feel connected to a quintessential hero who is kind and good. The next minute the protagonist kills another character or some such sin. So what motivates one to binge? It all depends on what an audience member likes, but one thing is clear, a series needs to be great to binge on it.
The Exorcist (2016) Official Fox Trailer