Inside the Lightbox is a new sponsored feature where we mine the extensive Lightbox catalogue for cool shows you might like to watch. This week, Alex Casey assembles a terrifying lineup of stone cold killer television. //
With the second season arriving to Lightbox this week, there’s no better time to sink your teeth into Hannibal. A psychological horror based on the Thomas Harris novels (and accompanying films), the show follows FBI investigator Will Graham (Hugh Dancy), a specialist in getting a little too deep into the minds of psychopaths. In pursuit of one particularly sick puppy serial killer, Will enlists the help of famed psychiatrist/low-key cannibal Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen). Also joining the cast is Laurence Fishburne, swapping his Morpheus leathers for and FBI badge as Special Agent Jack Crawford.
This show is truly terrifying, a bit like True Detective if you dropped it into a vat of blood and guts and played its throat like a violin. Will Graham’s bizarre ability to slip into the skin of serial killers skews him as a reliable narrator, and continues to spiral as he immerses himself dangerously into cases. Be warned that Hannibal is not for the faint of heart, stacked to the gills with some of the most stomach-churning gore allowed on television. For all the brutality, the show is visually styled with a calculated finesse, about as perfectly measured as the criminal masterminds that crawl around the Hannibal universe.
Dexter Morgan (played by Six Feet Under’s Michael C Hall) is a Miami blood-spatter analyst by day and a rampant serial killer by night. Constantly faced with unsolved cases and guilty parties walking free, Morgan decides takes justice into his own hands. Working at the Police Department alongside his sister Debra (Jennifer Carpenter), Dexter is the true definition of getting away with murder. Everything comes to a head when he is assigned to hunt down the grisliest offender of all – himself.
Some of the later seasons are a little uneven, with the taut premise being stretched a little too far, but that doesn’t stop the riveting pursuit and pace of the first seasons. Michael C Hall does a sensational job as Dexter, deftly creating a likeable and empathetic character that also happens to be a serial killer. Dexter is unwaveringly tense, stylistically polished and boasts a visceral opening credits sequence that will make you rethink breakfast time forever.
Starring Cold Feet and The Missing’s James Nesbitt as you’ve never seen him before, Jekyll adapts the famous Robert Louis Stephenson tale into a thriller set in contemporary England. Dr. Tom Jackman has an almost unstoppably deadly alter ego called Mr Hyde, and is desperate to control his darker half through any means necessary. Using endless technological methods to keep his foe in check for the sake of his wife and children, Jackman reaches out to psychiatric nurse Katherine Reimer (Michelle Ryan) for help.
The four-part miniseries is oddly gripping, blending the extreme scares with a subtle British humour that mirrors the split personality of our lead. Nesbitt is incredible as both Jackman and Hyde, assisted by the subtle use of visual effects and prosthetics to differentiate the two. It’s worth checking out for a grim exploration of the human psyche, no two minds about it.
American Horror Story: Asylum
The second season in Ryan Murphy’s terrifying anthology series, American Horror Story: Asylum is truly deranged television. Flicking in time between 1964 and the present day, the show follows two storylines – both dealing with the repercussions of the asylum inmates. Following the stories of the staff, nuns, doctors and patients at Briarcliff Manor, a house for the criminally insane, it’s no surprise that there are more than a few freaky folk lurking the halls. The an ex-Nazi, a serial killer, a possessed woman and even an alien abduction of sorts. Keep your eyes and ears out for the raspers too, they’ll haunt your dreams.
As is the way with Ryan Murphy, it’s a highly stylised yet gritty endeavour – you can practically taste the dust as the camera languidly skulks the halls. The ’60s period costuming and setting is about as authentic as they come, contrasted further by the smartphone-wielding Adam Levine-filled world of 2012. This is one asylum you’ll want to commit to.