TORONTO — Here's a look at some of the standout TV series and films debuting on subscription streaming platforms in October:
In a small town set in the near future, a young woman played by Chloë Grace Moretz plugs into the beta test of a virtual reality headset on the advice of her brother. She hopes to make an extra buck to support her family by wandering the streets of a futuristic London. But she soon discovers that not everything in the cyber world is artificial and the online world she inhabits might be a portal to a real future. Based on William Gibson's 2014 science-fiction novel, "The Peripheral" is a slick, intense and violent eight-episode series from "Westworld" creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy. (Prime Video, Oct. 21, episodes weekly)
"The Midnight Club"
At a hospice for the terminally ill, eight teenage patients gather each night to tell scary stories. But long-held secrets linger in the shadows of the facilities, including the mysterious death of a former patient. One night, the friends make a promise that the next of them to die will make contact with the others from beyond the grave. But even before that happens, the group faces the possibility that somebody is already lurking in the afterlife. Christopher Pike's 1994 teen horror novel is adapted into a 10-episode thriller packed with eerie scenery and plenty of jump scares from the mind of Mike Flanagan, best known for Netflix's "The Haunting of Hill House" and "Midnight Mass." (Netflix, Oct. 7)
A terrifyingly eclectic selection of spooky films and TV series are headed to streaming platforms for Halloween. Horror platform Shudder explores the colourful LGBTQ history that runs throughout the genre with the docuseries “Queer for Fear: The History of Queer Horror” (now available, new episodes weekly), while anthology film “V/H/S/99” becomes the fifth instalment in the franchise that features found footage of supernatural incidents (Shudder, Oct. 20). Disney Plus invites the whole family around the cauldron with “Hocus Pocus 2” (Sept. 30).
The Criterion Channel journeys into the vaults with three film collections that all debut Oct. 1. Its "'80s Horror" lineup compiles dozens of modern classics from famed auteurs, including Michael Mann's "The Keep," Paul Schrader's "Cat People" and Kathryn Bigelow's "Near Dark," while nine films comprise the "Universal Horror Classics" batch of monster movies of the 1930s. And fans of the undead can sink their teeth into "Vampires," a bundle that includes the glam eroticism of 1971's "Daughters of Darkness," 1972 blaxploitation favourite "Blacula" and Canadian-made 1995 dark comedy "Blood & Donuts."
"The White Lotus"
Mike White's Hawaii-set social satire "The White Lotus" transfixed viewers and critics alike. With its second season, the creator takes the story to Sicily where another branch of the White Lotus resort welcomes a new cast of vacationers, including characters played by Aubrey Plaza, F. Murray Abraham and returning favourite Jennifer Coolidge from the first season. While the plotline has been kept mostly under wraps, expectations are high for plot surprises and top-notch performances, especially since the first season racked up 10 Emmy Awards in September. (Crave, Oct. 30, episodes weekly)
ALSO THIS MONTH:
"Reboot" - Amid the streaming boom, the washed-up cast of an early 2000s family sitcom is rehired for a revival that quickly goes awry. Starring Judy Greer and Keegan-Michael Key. (Disney Plus, now available, episodes weekly)
"Saloum" - A trio of mercenaries wind up in a world of trouble when they're forced to make an emergency plane landing in this action-horror-thriller mashup. (Shudder, now available)
"Catherine Called Birdy" - Lena Dunham directs the tale of a teenager in medieval times who rebels against her father's matchmaking plans. (Prime Video, Oct. 7)
"The Mole" - Twenty years after it premiered on ABC, the competition series returns for a three-week showdown. Contestants earn money for a $1-million pot only one can win, while a traitor lurks to throw a wrench in the plan. (Netflix, Oct. 7)
"The Raccoons" - A digitally restored version of the beloved 1980s Canadian prime-time animated series arrives on streaming for the first time. (Crave, Oct. 8)
“The Playlist” – The rise of Daniel Ek, the Swedish entrepreneur who helped forever change the music industry with the creation of his streaming service Spotify, is told in a dramatic limited series. (Netflix, Oct. 13)
“Guillermo Del Toro's Cabinet of Curiosities” – As host of his own anthology series, the director of “Pan’s Labyrinth” channels Alfred Hitchcock as he introduces eight tales of horror by filmmakers who include Canadian directors Panos Cosmatos, known for Nic Cage thriller “Mandy” and Vincenzo Natali, who rose to fame with sci-fi yarn “Cube.” (Netflix, Oct. 25)
“The Good Nurse” - Jessica Chastain is a nurse who fears patients are dying at the hands of her new colleague, played by Eddie Redmayne. (Netflix, Oct. 26)
“All Quiet on the Western Front” – A brutal retelling of Erich Maria Remarque’s 1929 novel surrounding German soldiers near the end of the First World War. (Netflix, Oct. 28)
"High School" - Tegan and Sara's semi-autobiographical series about the musicians' teenage years in Calgary. (Prime Video, Oct. 28)
RETURNING SHOWS: Netflix marches out fresh seasons of its coming-of-age comedy "Derry Girls" (Oct. 7), adult-animated oddity "Big Mouth" (Oct. 28) and Asian-American reality show "Bling Empire" (Oct. 5). This month also marks the return of dating competition “Love is Blind” (Oct. 19), baking showdown "Nailed It" (Oct. 5) and new adventures from the globetrotting foodie “Somebody Feed Phil” (Oct. 18). Over on Crave, Hugh Laurie's space comedy "Avenue 5" returns (Oct. 10), and six new episodes of docuseries "The Vow" follow the U.S. trial of NXIVM, a "self-help" organization with a dark undercurrent. Apple TV Plus picks up with tropical romantic comedy “Acapulco” (Oct. 21) as its cabana boy lead fumbles towards making his dreams come true.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 29, 2022.
David Friend, The Canadian Press