Marianne Review

Mireille Herbstmeyer in 'Marianne'. Image sourced from IMDB Production Credit: Empreinte Digitale. 

Ever been worried that your art is going to literally come back to haunt you? If so, Netflix’s new French horror series, “Marianne”, released on Sept. 13, may not be the show to watch. On the contrary, if horror is A-OK, this series is a must-see.  

The eight-episode series was created, written and directed by Samuel Bodin and co-written by Quoc Dang Tran. The show follows Emma Larsimon (Victoire Du Bois), a best-selling author with a troubled past, as characters and events in her fiction horror series — about a young heroine, Lizzy Larck, who staves away a demon named Marianne who frequented Larsimon’s childhood nightmares — come to life following her announcement that she’ll end the series. What she didn’t know was that all along it was her writing that kept her nightmares at bay and everyone she’s ever loved is now threatened. 

Making this series what it is are a few elements that have come together flawlessly:a forceful female lead, an equally robust portrayal of her childhood friend’s mother Mrs. Daugeron, a nearly perfect musical score, and, finally, the main concept of art as catharsis.  

Du Bois previously known for her roles in critically acclaimed films such as 2016’s “From the Land of the Moon” and 2017’s “Call Me By Your Name” — excels in her performance of protagonist Emma. Emma is an alcohol-dependent writer who, despite all the events that can only be described as a living Hell happening all around her, remains steadfast in her commitment to ending Marianne’s reign in her hometown.  

Coinciding with all these events she’s also wrestling with eternal regret — and jealousy — about a romantic interest she could have married, except he’s already married with a family. 

Opposite of Du Bois’ character is her childhood friend’s mother, Mrs. Daugeron (Mireille Herbstmeyer), who turned into a creepy, old, and homicidal woman thirsty for blood after being possessed by Marianne. In this role, Herbstmeyer’s character also invokes memories of characters like Mrs. Ganush (Lorna Raver) in 2009’s “Drag Me to Hell”, who truly encapsulate Noël Carroll’s art-horror theory of a horrific character or monster having to possess two characteristics — they’re threatening, and they are disgusting in some way, shape, or form. 

Composing the sublime musical score for this series is Thomas Cappeau, also from France. What makes this film’s score so captivating is how it deviates from being almost spaghetti-western like what Ennio Morricone would create into what can only be described as sounding reminiscent of Goblin — famously known for scoring horror films such as Dario Argento’s giallo classics “Deep Red”, “Suspiria” and “Phenomena.” 

When it all comes together, the product is a series about a troubled woman who has found a way to narratively cope with her past through her Lizzy Larck novels. Without them — and, in turn, without her demon-fighting heroine creation there to aid — it is up to Emma to stop Marianne from both harming her loved ones and from possessing someone else. However, she could also end it all by just resuming her novels — continuing her coping method of choice: binge drinking and writing (this is definitely not a stereotype of writers).

The series ends with a partially-closed door for another season. If does not continue, the series has ended on a peculiar, thought-provoking note. If it does, it’ll be a pleasurable experience to see what Marianne-created challenges Emma has to face.