As we find ourselves in another week of lockdown, we invited film writer Ally Davies to roundup of some her top film and TV picks across Netflix for your binge-watching pleasure. Here’s part one of her two-part recommendation list…

A Ghost Story

This is a poignant supernatural drama and a unique piece of cinema. I’d thought I wouldn’t be able to take a film about a bedsheet ghost seriously but was very shocked at how moved I was by this film. It follows a man who returns as a ghost to visit his wife after he dies. He realises he is trapped in a melancholy, spectral form as a passive spectator to those living around him, with the film then exploring the loneliness of passing through time and space in this incorporeal state. It’s a stunning piece and has a truly haunting score by Daniel Hart.

American Horror Story

American Horror Story is a horror anthology series where each series focuses on a totally different time, place and era but usually contains the same ensemble cast. The series’ themes range from an asylum in the 1960s, a haunted art-deco hotel in present day L.A., the culture of witchcraft and voodoo in New Orleans, the Salem Witch Trials in the 1600s and the American circus freak show culture of the 1950s to name just a few – but each series also moves between decades, series locations and characters which become interconnected within the same universe. It’s a truly inventive, clever and original piece of television, imaginative, beautifully made, with a great score and curated music, fantastic acting and unusual narratives and characters. It treads the fine line between outrageous, thrilling and black comedy and mixes genres, tones, eras and mythologies to genius levels. This show isn’t just a horror, it’s deeply funny and relevant and has one of the best examples of a series’ evolving title sequences to date.


An all female-led crew formed of a biologist, a linguist, an anthropologist and a psychologist journey into a strange, extraterrestrial phenomenon called ‘The Shimmer’ that is expanding over America. This psychological science fiction film not only has some really interesting narrative ideas but also has some extremely unusual VFX and creature design. The score is excellent and aesthetically it borrows from other shining arthouse science fiction films such as Under The Skin and 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Arrival, District 9 and Looper

Three remarkable examples of science fiction. District 9, a found-footage style South African film where aliens have crash landed on Earth in Johannesburg and are kept in camps in inhumane conditions, continually being degraded by human society. It’s one of the most underrated but outstanding science fiction films, in my opinion. Arrival is another unusual example of the genre which features an extraterrestrial encounter but with a linguistic, temporal twist and a wonderfully eerie atonal score. Meanwhile, Looper is a riveting film which features interesting implications of time travel and extra-human abilities. What makes all three films so immersive are the extremely three-dimensional characters presented which emotionally captivate.

The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story

This series explores the true story behind the murder of designer Gianni Versace with a focus on spree killer Andrew Cunanan and his obession with Versace and delves deep into how he came to be the focus of the largest failed manhunt in U.S. history. This show really took me by surprise; it was a thrilling, extreme rollercoaster of emotions which kept me hooked and binge-watching over a couple of days. It has a great ‘90s soundtrack, the narrative is told in an unusual non-linear fashion and the exploration of Cunanan as a manipulative fantasist who is able to charm his way in and out of any situation is truly terrifying. Amongst other themes it also explores homophobia and the Aids crisis in the 1980s and 1990s. The first season, The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story is also worth a watch. American Crime Story is also produced by Brad Falchuk and Ryan Murphy, the creators of American Horror Story, so you know it’s going to be good.

Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad

I don’t think that Breaking Bad needs much of an introduction. It’s one of the most celebrated TV shows of recent years which contains one of the most iconic figures of TV history of the last decade. The show follows a high school chemistry teacher (and chemist genius), Walter White, who on discovery that he has cancer, decides to mass produce crystal meth and charts his rise to bad-ass, FBI-wanted drug lord. Better Call Saul is a prequel spinoff of the series which takes one of the most beloved characters of Breaking Bad, ex-con artist turned genius lawyer Jimmy McGill, and explores his emotive backstory and the trials and tragedies he faced on his way to becoming Saul Goodman.

Black Mirror

This is a fascinating science fiction anthology series from the genius (and weird) mind of Charlie Brooker which explores the dark side of the evolution of technology and looks at the sometimes satirical, sometimes horrifying consequences of humans and their obsession with all things tech. It’s dark, fun, shocking and outrageous at times – a must-watch if you are looking for truly original short stories. Worth mentioning also is Love Death and Robots, an animated anthology series of a similar ilk.


Carol, based on Patricia Highsmith’s 1952 novel, The Price of Salt, is a seductive romantic drama which follows two women and their forbidden love as they struggle against homophobia in 1950s New York. A quietly engaging, understated, almost ephemeral piece of cinema from Todd Haynes.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

Described best as Buffy meets Harry Potter, this American supernatural horror TV series is perfect for binge-watching if you need something magically escapist. There’s something I like to call ‘magical comfort’, which the Harry Potter franchise is partly responsible for; a subgenre that induces a warm, cosy, comforting feel which features supernatural and human beings in a familiar setting trying to navigate their lives within the human, and at the same time, the magical world. This show also makes me feel like it’s Halloween every day so there’s no complaints here.

David Attenborough Collections

If you love Attenborough then you will always find comfort in his exquisite series. If you want to watch stunning wildlife documentaries from all over the world with superb cinematography, editing and original music then Netflix has a number of Attenborough’s collections including Our Planet, Planet Earth I and II and, my personal fave, Blue Planet I and II.

Extra Ordinary

A charmingly made Irish, supernatural comedy-horror with an endearing cast, featuring witty, deadpan humour that is cleverly intertextual. The film follows driving instructor Rose, a Medium who hides her supernatural gift after a tragic family accident. On meeting a widower when his daughter becomes the focal point of a ritual sacrifice, she decides to jump back into the supernatural world once more to save the family. It’s consistently funny and demonstrates refreshingly unique humour.

Gone Girl

No spoilers, this is a psychological thriller by David Fincher based on a novel by Gillian Flynn. It’s hard to talk about it without giving any of its twists or turns away so if you haven’t seen it, watch it now. If you have seen it, watch it again.


Hannibal is a psychological horror-thriller series based on Thomas Harris’ novels Red Dragon, Hannibal and Hannibal Rising. If you’re a fan of Dr. Hannibal Lecter or Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal takes that love to a new and terrifying level. It’s an exquisite show which broaches on art house television. Shot beautifully with dark, foreboding sound design and music, with very unique body horror SFX and a dynamic, electrifying relationship at its centre between Hannibal and Will Graham (the FBI investigator who enlists his help), it’s a must-see for anyone into detective shows with a pschosexual, macabre twist.

The Haunting of Hill House

The Haunting of Hill House is a series loosely based on the 1959 novel by Shirley Jackson which follows five siblings over two different timelines who confront unexplained and traumatic experiences that happened when they were children in their mysterious and dangerous childhood home. There are a lot of haunted house-based horrors out there, but this one is an interesting take and features some genuinely hair-raising horror moments.

Ally Davies
Published on:
Fri 10 Apr 2020