Review by Ruth
According to recent sightings of pumpkin spice lattes and orange and black decorations, it's Halloween. If, like me, you're finding it hard to get your spooky on when it's 80 plus degrees outside and the trees are still emerald green, I have the solution for you. It's called "The Living and the Dead," a new TV show from the BBC.
This six-episode series was created by the team that produced the British original of "Life on Mars," also a rather cool show. In "The Living and the Dead," however, they've really outdone themselves. This is by far the most consistently scary and creepy show I've ever seen, while also being excellent, high-quality entertainment. If you are a fan of Victorian/early 20th century ghost stories, particularly the works of M.R. James and Algernon Blackwood, you are in for a rare treat.
The story takes place in the 1890's English countryside. The Victorian obsessions with grief and the supernatural are here, as is the average Victorian's distrust of their increasingly mechanized world. Even the burgeoning fields of photography and psychology are featured; the lead character is a psychologist turned farmer, his wife, a photographer.
Science versus superstition is a theme--while the former psychologist seeks rational explanations for the horrific events unfolding on his farm, his workers, the common folk, never question that black magic is to blame.
Another aspect of the show that I particularly enjoyed was its fidelity to its Victorian ghost story roots. As many other productions seem to become grab-bags of monsters and creatures, this one has no vampires, muck monsters, or zombies. Just ghosts.
Or are they?
Besides the incredibly involving story, the show has two other main ingredients working for it. The lead actors who portray husband and wife Nathan and Charlotte have a great rapport and inspire much sympathy from the viewer. The other is the visual presentation. The stunning costumes, sets, locations, and cinematography blew me away; it's like watching a moving 18th century pastoral painting. Amazing.
Back to the scary: this show had me sitting straight up on my couch and screaming, yes, screaming, at what was being revealed on screen. And I am not a screamer; ask anybody.
The series is a perfect binge-watch. It will immerse you in its world of things that go bump in the night, and never stops asking the question, who is haunting who?
9/10. The show has just concluded on BBC One, but watch for it on streaming sites and DVD/Blueray in the future--in time for ACTUAL Halloween, maybe?