With Halloween closing in, many fright fans are looking for that next horror film or TV show to drive their scares through October. While there's something to be said about series like "American Horror Story," "The Walking Dead" or even new shows like "Outcast," this should be the year you dig a little bit deeper for your spooky TV treat.
That's where "Beyond the Walls" comes in. The French miniseries -- available exclusively on the Shudder streaming service -- manages to build an engrossing world over three episodes that will terrify and intrigue you.
The story follows a young woman named Lisa (Veerle Baetens) who inherits an old house from a stranger that had died in it over two decades earlier, only to never be discovered. One night she discovers a vast labyrinth hidden behind the walls of the house, which is filled with trapped souls -- the Others -- and very little possibility of an escape. She also meets a man named Julien (François Deblock) who, like her, has become trapped with seemingly no way out.
It's as unique a tale, as it is scary and for director and co-creator Hervé Hadmar, it's a story that had to be told the right way.
"You have to tell a story and the temptation is strong for the first episode to be built like a long first act and, of course, you can’t do that," he explains. "For 'Beyond the Walls,' the decision was made to have three different tones; three different moods built for three different rhythms and episodes."
That's why the individual episodes play out like miniature movies themselves, playing with genre ideas while telling the overall story. "The first episode is built around the sensation of fear," he says. "The second episode is some kind of a 'road movie' in a house. It is built around the idea of exploration -- exploration of the house and exploration of the characters." Then it all comes to a head in episode three, which is "built around truth."
"We are here to discover the truth about Lisa; the truth about her story and the story of Julian," Hadmar says. "The show is now more a dark fantasy tale for adults than a horror story."
Believe it or not, that dark fantasy has its roots in truth. Hadmar recounts, "The origin of this story is a true story. Four years ago in the French city of Lille, a man [was] been discovered, in his house, dead for 20 years... He was alone... waiting for someone to find him."
From there, Hardmar and his co-creator Marc Herpoux crafted the twisted story "Beyond the Walls" became. With the striking visuals, though, Hadmar took the lead, letting his former career as a graphic artist guide him in building the haunting world.
"With a story like 'Beyond the Walls,' you have to build a world of fantasy. I mean, the audience can very rapidly step out of a story like that, so I have to hypnotize the audience with forms, colors, and sounds," he says. "Every frame is the most important frame."
A look at the below clip, which is exclusive to Screener, proved just that. The labyrinth Lisa and Julien are trapped in is beyond elaborate and the latter's hand-drawn map shows just how much thought went into constructing the maze.
"To re-create the labyrinth of our house, I had to find 12 different abandoned houses and castles in France and Belgium," Hadmar explains. "Then re-write the story with the places I had found with my crew in mind."
Using such a variety of locations keeps viewers on the edge of their seats throughout the three episodes, unable to find a place of comfort no matter where they look. For Hadmar, that's the entire point.
"You fear what you can’t understand. For example, in the first 'Alien' movie you don’t see the beast that much," he says. "But you can feel the monster behind every door, you hear it, you see shadows. The fear and suspense are everywhere."
That's what will keep audiences connected to "Beyond the Walls." You're never quite sure what is happening, but you know that whatever is going on could always get worse.
"Everything is possible and we fear that," Hadmar says.
"Beyond the Walls" is currently streaming on Shudder.