The Burning Girls
Something witchy this way comes in Paramount+ series The Burning Girls when Jack (Samantha Morton) arrives to take her place as the new vicar in the rural village of Chapel Croft with her teenage daughter (Ruby Stokes). They aim to make a fresh start for themselves after a harrowing event caused them to leave Nottingham. However, they quickly discover that, despite its charming façade, this village is packed with its own collection of sinister secrets – the most disturbing of which are the ghosts of two girls who were burned at the stake in the 16th century, who are said to bring harm to whoever is unfortunate enough to see them.
Based on the novel of the same name by CJ Tudor, Paramount+’s offering for the Halloween season wastes no time in getting to its shocking subject matter, as its cold open demonstrates exactly why this show has its name. From here, the plot thickens as the first episode introduces audiences to various other village mysteries, including the previous vicar’s suicide, two girls who went missing in the 90s and a bloodied exorcism kit left at Jack’s doorstep. It seems that everyone has something to hide, and that’s before the script touches on themes of fanaticism and domestic abuse.
A lot is going on within the first two episodes of this show alone, which sets the scene for a compelling and interconnected mystery as the script gradually tugs at each of its threads, made all the better by a stellar performance by Morton. Being a show about ghost girls and witchcraft, though, The Burning Girls isn’t particularly frightening due to an overall lack of atmosphere and effective scares.
By spending more time on exposition than immersing viewers into the Wicker Man-like setting, complete with creepy effigies, there’s a distinct lack of suspense that accompanies supernatural scenes. Rather, this series opts to create fear by way of loud noises and chaotically edited dream sequences that depict people screaming into warped camera lenses and a girl biting the ear off her stuffed rabbit. Sometimes a loud musical sting will occur without it being clear what viewers are supposed to jump at. These scenes are often sillier than they are scary.
While The Burning Girls is filled with mysteries to be uncovered, its opening two episodes struggle to envelope viewers in its eerie atmosphere.
The Burning Girls is released on Paramount+ on 19th October 2023.
Watch the trailer for The Burning Girls here: