This month, Hulu looses an unnatural force on a gaggle of teenage girls and partners with Blumhouse for a yearlong calendar of holidays from hell. Meanwhile, over at Netflix, they’re pulling out all the stops: sadistic island cults, witches, demons, IRL terrorists and murderers. And Amazon, to their credit, goes against the grain with a pair of handsomely mounted, finely pedigreed miniseries. All that and a couple of festival-favorite features, coming soon to a functional Wi-Fi signal near you. Here’s what you’ll be streaming this October. (For network, cable and other TV options, go here.)
Apostle (Netflix, Oct. 12th)
When Gareth Evans, the gleefully unhinged mind behind The Raid and its sequel — i.e. only the greatest non-Mad Max action franchise of the decade! — makes a new movie, it’s cause for celebration. His latest is a horror flick set on a remote island in 1905, where a religious cult has established an isolated colony. One Thomas Richardson (Legion‘s Dan Stevens) travels to their stronghold to retrieve his kidnapped sister Andrea (Lucy Boynton) and give those zealots what-for; their prophet leader (Michael Sheen) and his array of torture contraptions have other plans. Those with a penchant for feverish Gothic vibes in the lacerated vein of Crimson Peak are in luck; the guy with a drill pointed at his cranium, less so.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Netflix, Oct. 26th)
Archie, Betty, Veronica and the rest of the Riverdale gang have won young hearts and minds over at the CW — and now Netflix taps the same creative team for their own dark YA series. Sabrina Spellman (Kiernan Shipka) takes center stage in this supernatural serial, though it’s a far cry from the brightly-lit Nineties sitcom starring Melissa Joan Hart. Half mortal and half witch, this edgy new Sabrina must fend off Satanic demons and clandestine orders plotting to harm her and her beloved aunts (Lucy Davis and Miranda Otto). The actors are hunkier, the intrigue is steamier and the special-effects budgets are higher.
Into the Dark (Hulu, Oct. 5th)
Think of it like anti-binge viewing: Hulu and the Blumhouse horror factory will crank out one new episode of this chilling anthology per month, each one a free-standing installment corresponding to a holiday contained within the following four weeks. The first episode follows a merciless hitman cutting a bloody swath through selfie-obsessed Los Angeles on Halloween night; the second chronicles unnatural disturbances on a family’s first Thanksgiving following Mom’s death; and so on. (One can’t help but wonder what they’ll do for, say, August. Prepare to witness the spine-tingling terror of Eid Al-adha!) For scary-movie diehards, it’ll be like a little gift every first Friday — a present spring-loaded with knives.
The Kindergarten Teacher (Netflix, Oct. 12th)
This year, the Sundance Film Festival was abuzz over Sara Colangelo’s remake of a provocative Israeli drama, starring Maggie Gyllenhaal as a woman who hopes to nurture a talent for poetry she identifies in one of her moppet students. At least, that’s what this teacher claims to want: By the time her drive to get the child a book deal leads her to kidnapping, her behavior looks a bit more like an unhealthy obsession. This uncompromising character study flirts with the psychological thriller as one profoundly unhappy woman resorts to desperate measures in her pursuit of a vicarious second chance.
Light as a Feather (Hulu, Oct. 12th)
This horror series revolves around a group of five teens who take the old urban legend of “Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board” a little too far and disturb a dark force that comes to collect in gruesome fashion. Or could the entity picking them off be one of their own, and the visions of maggots wriggling from the ceiling and black sludge dripping down the walls nothing more than hallucinations?
Making a Murderer, Part 2 (Netflix, Oct. 19)
The saga of Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey, the wrongly accused (or were they?) suspects in a 2005 Wisconsin murder trial, continues in this follow-up to the wildly popular true crime documentary series. While the first season focused on the details of their defense and a hasty shuffling through the justice system, the new episodes will join the men as they face the trials of post-conviction imprisonment. Having indicted the police, lawyers and judges, the series now turns on the prison-industrial complex robbing prisoners of their basic human dignity. Hopefully, it’ll be more Paradise Lost: Revelations than Serial Season 2.
The Man in the High Castle, Season 3 (Amazon Prime, Oct. 5th)
This series may have sold itself as military spec-fic in its early seasons — what if the Axis forces had won the war? — but the genre-flipper based on Philip K. Dick’s original novel will travel down some odd rabbit holes in its third year. Sci-fi takes over as the dominant mode, with the introduction of alternate-dimension travel between the Nazi-controlled Earth and our own reality. A band of resistance fighters hopping between planes of existence may be able to restore justice to a world strangled by totalitarianism’s viselike grip; the dictators, however, also have their sights set on the final metaphysical frontier. “Antifascist ideology cross-pollinated with the arcana of Fringe” only scratches the surface of a show that’s genuinely weird and unclassifiable in the most complimentary senses.
Private Life (Netflix, Oct. 5th)
Richard and Rachel Grimes (Paul Giamatti and Kathryn Hahn) want nothing more than a child. Having exhausted all other experimental and holistic treatments, these erudite Manhattanites are prepared to search for an egg donor. Along comes their 25-year-old niece Sadie (Kayli Carter), a godsend that nonetheless complicates an already fragile situation. She may not be related by blood, but she disrupts their relationship as only family can. Nine years out from her sensational The Savages, writer-director Tamara Jenkins once again dives into lives of not-so-quiet upper-middle-class desperation.
The Romanoffs (Amazon Prime, Oct. 12th)
Mad Men mastermind Matthew Weiner gathers a head-spinning cast including past players (John Slattery, Christina Hendricks) and marquee names (Isabelle Huppert, Griffin Dunne, Diane Lane, Kathryn Hahn) united under a peculiar commonality. This anthology series bounces between an eclectic assortment of characters, all of whom claim to be descended from the Romanoff bloodline of Russian royalty. Some use it as cocktail party conversation fodder, others use it as foundation for quick-money scams. Everyone employs it to make their lives a lot more interesting. Das vadanya.
22 July (Netflix, Oct. 10th)
Filmmaker Paul Greengrass focuses on a pair of 2011 terrorist attacks in Norway as the subject for his latest visceral, you-are-there portal into tragedy — notably, the horrific massacre on the island of Utøya, the deadliest incident the country had seen since World War II. After guiding the viewer through a simulation of hell, the docudrama tracks the ensuing trial process as well as the sociological impact such a nightmare had on a peaceable population, getting a high-angle view of scars on a nationwide scale.