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Since The Walking Dead premiered back in 2010, it seems that horror in television has been going through an unexpected renaissance. What was once an extremely small corner of TV history has since become mainstream, with more shows like American Horror Story, Hannibal and many others proving that general audiences are ready for genuine scares on the small screen. This has given networks a chance to take risks with their more terrifying material, resulting in some amazing shows.
2016 has continued this delightful trend with what may as well be one of the best years for horror television in history. Not only did we see a lot of creepy new programming, but some established shows also found their footing this past year. Below I’ll be listing my personal choice for the Top Five Best Horror Shows of 2016. However, I’d love to see what your favorites are as well, so post them in the comments!
5. The X-Files
Many viewers don’t quite appreciate the lasting effect that The X-Files had on television in general. This monster of 90s pop culture was everywhere back then, and there’s a good reason for that. When the new season was first announced I couldn’t help but squeal like a schoolgirl, anxious to see what Chris Carter had in store for Mulder and Scully after so many false starts over the years.
While the new season wasn’t exactly the best that The X-Files has to offer, I can honestly say that I wasn’t disappointed. Seeing Duchovny and Anderson onscreen together again was one of the highlights of the year for me, despite that frustrating cliffhanger and some questionable humor. Hopefully, we won’t have to wait another 14 years for the next season.
4. Ash vs Evil Dead
I probably wasn’t the only one that felt a little skeptical when it was announced that Starz would be bringing Ashley Williams to the small screen, but I’m glad they did. The first season may have had some ups and downs, but Ash vs Evil Dead is definitely a welcome addition to Sam Raimi’s franchise.
The show’s sophomore season has only improved so far, with a great cast, clever writing and exceptionally brutal gore, stretching the limits of violence on television. The network has already confirmed a third season, which is great news for those who, like myself, would like a frequent dose of Bruce Campbell in their lives.
3. Channel Zero: Candle Cove
Few people would have expected SyFy to deliver one of the best pieces of serious horror entertainment of the year, but they most certainly did. Based on the eponymous Creepypasta, Channel Zero: Candle Cove was a pleasant (not to mention extremely creepy) surprise and I can’t wait to tune in next year for their adaptation of the No End House.
I’ve done a full review of the series before, so suffice to say that SyFy gave us a tremendously entertaining Halloween treat. However, I’m sure many viewers will agree that if we never see the horrific Tooth Child again, it’ll be too soon.
2. Wolf Creek
The Wolf Creek franchise doesn’t seem like an obvious choice for a TV adaptation, but Greg McLean’s latest foray into the gruesome adventures of Australia’s favorite serial killer is certainly worth a watch. John Jarratt’s Mick Taylor is memorable as always, and he finally has a worthy adversary in Lucy Fry’s Eve Thorogood.
I’ve also done a full review of this one, and I stand by my opinion that it’s one of the best television events of the year. The cinematography is nothing short of beautiful, and the story takes itself seriously, resulting in a more-than-worthy sequel to the Wolf Creek films.
1. The Exorcist
From the first few trailers and TV spots, I didn’t have much faith in Fox’s The Exorcist series. I honestly didn’t think it was possible to adapt such a perfect film (and novel) to the small screen without losing something in the process. When the first episode finally aired, it didn’t seem like anything special, though it certainly wasn’t the disaster many were expecting.
However, much like Trace, my opinion of the show improved with each passing episode, and by the time we reached the mid-series twist, I was hooked. From the perfect cast to the meaningful story about faith, loss and love, there is so much to like about The Exorcist. There have been many quality horror stories on television this year, but I don’t believe any of them are on the same level as this one. Now, we can only hope that Fox listens to the fans and renews the series before it’s too late.
There were a few other contenders for this list that didn’t quite make the cut for one reason or another. Penny Dreadful was one of them, as I didn’t think the third season felt like a proper conclusion to the series, especially considering the heights that it reached last year. Supernatural also came surprisingly close to being featured, as the second half of the 11th season felt like a return to form after a disastrous couple of years, but the show still feels redundant at this point. Finally, MTV’s Scream was also briefly considered, as I honestly enjoy the show, but it still comes off as a guilty pleasure.