Netflix provides a wide variety of content but also includes a lot of garbage. We update our weekly recommendations to help you find the finest shows to watch. We also include some hidden treasures, so you may be sure to discover a new must-see show that you haven’t heard of before.
1. Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities
Suppose Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio left you wanting more. In that case, this collection of dark and macabre stories is the perfect thing to read next. Inspired by shows like Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Twilight Zone; del Toro introduces each episode of Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities. The stories in each episode include classic horror shorts, adaptations of Lovecraftian stories, and del Toro’s ideas. Directors like Vincenzo Natali, Ana Lily Amirpour, Catherine Hardwicke, and Keith Thomas bring viewers into these strange worlds where monsters are sure to be hiding.
Each gory horror story gives them a chance to show off their filmmaking skills, but the series is held together by del Toro’s signature approach to physical effects and prosthetics. Expect to see a lot of shambling masses of demonic tentacles, ravenous rats, and ancient graves. These things are brought to life beautifully in one of Netflix’s most visually stunning new shows in years, even if it is often scary.
The Addams matriarch is sent to the Nevermore Academy, a spooky monster boarding school when she intentionally releases flesh-eating piranhas into a pool populated by swim team bullies from her “regular” school. Wednesday had initially hoped to get away from her excessively perky roommate and the scary high school cliques (goths are vampires, jocks are werewolves, and stoners are gorgons). But as her psychic abilities develop, she becomes embroiled in a murder investigation with personal ties to her family and a prophecy that spans decades.
Given that Wednesday was developed by Smallville’s Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, its blend of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Riverdale, and Smallville should be no surprise. In any case, director Tim Burton’s flair for aesthetics and Jenna Ortega’s marvelously macabre and perfectly deadpan portrayal of Wednesday herself elevate the film to a higher level. Catharine Zeta-Jones and Luis Guzmán as Morticia and Gomez Addams, Fred Armisen as the wacky Uncle Fester, Gwendoline Christie as Nevermore’s Principal Weems, and the cinematic Wednesday Addams, Christina Ricci as a botany teacher, Wednesday is not high culture, round out the excellent supporting cast. The movie is still a good treat to see after Halloween.
As the 19th century comes to a close, a ship full of newcomers leaves London for New York. The people on the Kerberos come from many different cultures and social classes, but they all want to get to America. That is until the ship is pulled off course to find the missing ship Prometheus. Yet, as more secrets about the abandoned liner come to light, such as an abandoned child, mechanical scarab beetles, and a lot of strange tetrahedrons, more secrets about the people who live on the Kerberos and why they are there also come to light. The creators of Dark, Jantje Friese, and Baran bo Odar made 1899 a multilingual mind-bending mystery. It is just as gripping and well-paced as Dark, with fantastic set designs, beautiful period costumes, and stellar performances from an international cast.
4. The Umbrella Academy
Season 3 of The Umbrella Academy finds the dysfunctional adopted siblings of the Hargreeves family, who prevented the end of the world and were subsequently trapped in the 1960s, back in the present and face to face with the Hargreeves family. In this case, your abusive father figure/mentor took in seven newborns with superpowers instead of you, illustrating the unforeseen repercussions of tampering with the space-time continuum. It’s not even the worst part that you’re trapped in a different timeline. A Kugelblitz that threatens to obliterate reality is another problem they must solve. My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way and illustrator Gabriel Bá created the comics on which the third season of The Umbrella Academy is based. Even those who have read every issue of the original comics will be surprised by the bizarre turns this season will take.
5. The Haunting of Hill House
The Haunting of Hill House is a scary movie based on Shirley Jackson’s gothic horror book. It is gripping, stunning, and, most of all, terrifying. In the summer of 1992, the Crain family moved into Hill House with plans to fix it up and sell it. When they were forced to stay longer, paranormal activity drove one family member crazy, and the rest had to leave. Twenty-six years later, something terrible happens again, moving the family members still alive to get together and discuss the memories ruining their lives. Hill House never holds back on jump scares, which makes the tension too much to handle (in the best way). Even though there are supernatural parts to the plot, the horror is based on the stories of the Crain family.
6. The Witcher
The Witcher Season 1 on Netflix is not a good show by objective, critical measures. As a mindless escape, though, it succeeds magnificently. A mutant “witch” who kills monsters for a living, Geralt of Rivia (Henry Cavill) stars in this series based on a Polish fantasy book series that became popular worldwide after being adapted into a hit computer game. However, our burly, gravelly-voiced hero becomes entangled in a larger narrative when his fate becomes intertwined with that of a runaway princess whose parents were killed and a strong sorceress who wants to test the limits of her powers.
With its muted speech, monster brutality, and confused timeline, the series sometimes feels more like a collection of video game clips than a coherent dramatic plot, yet it succeeds. The popularity of The Witcher seems to stem from the show’s creators’ understanding that fans don’t want their ridiculous fantasy programs to be too high-brow and are instead essentially there to watch significant magic effects and attractive Geralt in the bath.
7. The End of the F***ing World
“I thought it might be fun to kill her. So I acted like I was in love with her.” This is the start of James’ (Alex Lawther) inner monologue. James is a dysfunctional 17-year-old who thinks he is a sociopath. Alyssa, played by Jessica Barden and the new girl at school with imperfect parents and a knack for making people mad, is his target. They run away together, and as the police chase after them, their crime spree brings them closer. This black comedy from Channel 4 is so good that you’ll want much more. You’ll finish The End of the F***ing World in a weekend, or maybe even an evening, and you’ll be a better person for it.
When Marie Adler(Kaitlyn Dever) tells the police she was raped, she is thrown into a deeply broken system that will worsen her traumatic life. Unbelievable is based on a true story. It shows what happens after Adler is raped and how two female detectives work together years later to solve a series of disturbingly similar crimes. Because of what happened to Adler, this is sometimes hard to watch, but the excellent lead performances and focus on the voices of victims—which is often missing in shows that show violence against women—make it a nuanced and must-see look at how sexual violence affects people for a long time.
9. Money Heist
When a group of nine thieves tries to rob Spain’s Royal Mint, they are sure that their well-thought-out plan covers every possible situation. But things start to go wrong when the mysterious person in charge of the heist gets close to the police detective, who ensures that all 67 hostages are freed safely. Even though the plot twists are sometimes hard to believe, Money Heist is a fun, fast-paced, and tense show with flawed main characters that are surprisingly easy to like.
10. Keep Breathing
Melissa Barrera (Scream) is mesmerizing as the main character in Keep Breathing, an intensely suspenseful, heart-pounding thriller about a single survivor of an airplane crash who must fight both the Canadian wilderness and her problems to stay alive. Barrera is captivating in a role that lets her show off her range. She owns scenes in dreams and memories and her horrible reality of being stuck in a harsh and wild land. Joselyn Picard, who played Lois in “Superman and Lois,” shines as a younger version of Barrera’s Liv. She captures the essence of the actress while fitting in well with the rest of the cast. Keep Breathing is a horrifying story. – Yael Tygiel.
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