From This is Us to the Stephen King universe, horror fans had a smorgasbord to choose from this year on television. And with the ever-increasing omnipresence of streaming, these scary shows of 2018 were right at our fingertips, so we could binge on the killing spree of Andrew Cunanan and freeze-frame key moments in Hill House to haunt our dreams forever. If these shows are any indication, the golden age of television will continue to reign for years to come.
The Haunting of Hill House
One critic may have called it the goth version of This is Us, but most audiences and critics were won over by The Haunting of Hill House, despite its lack of an apparent connection to Shirley Jackson’s iconic work outside of the title. Regardless, one thing was clear: The season’s fifth episode, in which we learn the identity of the Bent-Neck Lady, and the sixth, which alternates seamlessly between present day and the past, were the stuff of genius. Though it’s hard to say what Shirley Jackson would have thought of the show (although we tend to think her respect for originality would have made her feelings quite positive), the series’ focus on the horror of grief and loss with a generous helping of jump scares and disturbing imagery makes it a win in our book.
Though plenty of Stephen King’s novels have made it to both the big and silver screens, his epic cast of ghouls have never been collected under one umbrella—until now. Hulu’s Castle Rock brings the King-verse directly to your living room. With characters from his classic story “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption”, The Shining and more, King fans and critics alike couldn’t get enough of this series. The performance of Carrie actress Sissy Spacek puts the icing on the creepy cake.
Related: The 6 Scariest Stephen King Books
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
Roberto Aguirre Sacasa, the creator of Riverdale, which is based on the Archie comics, decided to cash-in again with another character from the same series, the teenage witch Sabrina. You might remember a rather cheery Sabrina from another television iteration in the 90s, played by Melissa Joan Hart. But this Sabrina, starring Mad Men’s Kiernan Shipka, is a decidedly darker teenage witch. For one thing, Sabrina’s witch aunts really do worship the Dark Lord—as in Satan himself—and Sabrina finds herself torn between life as a normal teenager and pledging herself to Lucifer.
Starring the impeccable Ciaran Hinds, AMC’s The Terror is adapted from the novel of the same name by Dan Simmons. Both the novel and the series are based on the real-life disappearance of two ships with a total crew of 129 men in the Arctic in 1845. Searches continued up through the 1980s, and revealed some devastating truths, including cannibalism! This terrifying series from AMC was so critically acclaimed that the network renewed it for a second season in 2019, which is reported to follow a whole new storyline.
From the mind of Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn and UnREAL creator Marti Noxon, Sharp Objects tells the story of Camille Preaker, a reporter who returns to her hometown to investigate the disappearance of two teenage girls. While there, she finds herself embroiled once more in her own past, as her mother and sister drag her further into the mud. Amy Adams stars as Camille in HBO’s adaptation of the novel, alongside Patricia Clarkson in a star turn as her mother and Eliza Scanlen as her sister. This deeply disturbing plot and shocking finale made Sharp Objects one of the most compelling (and horrifying) things to watch in 2018.
Season four of the SyFy channel’s horror anthology premiered in the month of October with its usual six-episode run. And just when fans thought creator Nick Antosca couldn’t possibly have anything else up his sleeve, he presents “The Dream Door”. Jillian and Tom suspect their house may be haunted, especially when a door in the cellar appears out of nowhere bearing a KILLER CLOWN. Yeah, it might be time to move.
The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
This season of Ryan Murphy’s American Crime Story covers the murder of Gianni Versace and the killing spree of serial killer Andrew Cunanan. With incredible performances from Darren Criss, who plays Cunanan, and Cody Fern, who plays Cunanan's friend and one of his victims, David Madson, the series took home several Emmy Awards. For some reason, the show wasn’t as big of a hit as OJ vs The People with viewers—but sometimes the numbers don’t tell the whole story. This was one of the most fascinating and disturbing series of 2018.
The plot summary of this show reads like an episode of The Twilight Zone: A flight lands and the passengers disembark only to be met with disbelief–their plane has been missing for five years. Chills! Manifest chronicles what happens once these people return to their lives and find their friends and family in various stages of grief, now unsure how to react to their loved ones' sudden reappearance. As if air travel wasn't anxiety-inducing enough these days.
The Walking Dead
Will The Walking Dead ever die? We suppose the answer is no, and that’s just fine with Walking Dead fans, who continue to eat up this never-ending post-apocalyptic saga about the wages of evil, despite - or perhaps because of - the fact that the 24/7 news cycle makes us feel like we’re already living in a dystopia. Even this season, with major characters leaving the series for good, viewers still can’t enough of this punishing but excellent show.
Featured still from "The Haunting of Hill House" via Amblin Television