Monsterland Season 1 primer: What to know before you watch

Monsterland -- "Plainfield, IL" -- Episode 105 -- A suburban lawyer debates life and death. Kate Feldman (Taylor Schilling), shown. (Photo by: Jeff Neira/Hulu)
Monsterland -- "Plainfield, IL" -- Episode 105 -- A suburban lawyer debates life and death. Kate Feldman (Taylor Schilling), shown. (Photo by: Jeff Neira/Hulu) /

Before you dive into Hulu’s creepy new horror anthology Monsterland Season 1, check out our guide to find out what you need to know!

Hulu is kicking off “Huluween” with an exciting new horror anthology series called Monsterland, based on short story collection North American Lake Monsters: Stories by Nathan Ballingrud. Monsterland Season 1 will feature fallen angels, mermaids, and other creepy creatures.

Every episode is set in a different location within the United States, varying from Newark, New Jersey to Eugene, Oregon. Big-name stars like Kelly Marie Tran, Taylor Schilling and Kaitlyn Dever appear, and so far, the show has received a good buzz from critics! It sounds like it’s going to be an incredibly spooky way to kick off the scariest time of year!

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Monsterland Season 1: What should you watch or read before the show begins?

As I mentioned above, each Monsterland episode derives its origin from Ballingrud’s collection of short stories. It’s not required reading, but you might be interested in pick up the collection before or after checking out the show.

Ballingrud’s debut book won the Shirley Jackson Award. It’s available for purchase on Amazon and likely at your local library!

Monsterland Season 1: A list of the main cast members and who they play

Syfy Wire received an exclusive book-to-screen featurette for Monsterland in which Dever and creator/write Mary Laws discuss what appealed to them about Ballingrud’s stories. They describe the show as an exploration of humanity and trauma through these monstrous obstacles.

Aside from Tran, Schilling and Dever, other notable stars in the cast include Jonathan Tucker, Charlie Tahan, Nicole Beharie, Hamish Linklater, Marquis Rodriguez, Bill Camp, Michael Hsu Rosen, Taylor Schilling, Roberta Colindrez, Adria Arjona, Trieu Tran, Mike Colter and Adepero Oduye.

Monsterland Season 1: How many episodes? What is the runtime?

Season 1 contains eight episodes. According to various reviewers, the runtime of each episode is close to 55 minutes.

The following are the episode titles — which double as the story’s location:

  • Port Fourchon, LA
  • Eugene, OR
  • New Orleans, LA
  • New York, NY
  • Plainfield, IL
  • Palacios, TX
  • Iron River, MI
  • Newark, NJ

Monsterland Season 1: What are critics saying?

Thus far, reviews are somewhat mixed. Bloody Disgusting claims the show is “bleak” and “soul-sucking” because characters contend with such abysmal situations, and most episodes don’t end with a tidy conclusion. According to reviewer Meagan Navarro, the stories are so overwhelmingly grim that it’s a challenging show to binge in one sitting. Of course, that will vary by the viewer.

Forbes reviewer Jeff Ewing had a more positive view of the show,

Both reviewers agree that the series is character-driven, which is appealing to me. Ewing even said that each episode had an “Ari Aster-style of character-driven horror (with a monstrous Guillermo del Toro twist).” I don’t know about you, but that sounds fantastic to me! I’m a big fan of both Aster’s and del Toro’s work.

“It is, in general, a fantastic set of well-told stories with strong performances, and based on emotionally rich, well-written source material,” says Ewing.

Gizmodo‘s review seems to fall in the middle of the two previously mentioned articles. While reviewer Cheryl Eddy says Monsterland Season 1 can “feel overloaded with dread,” she also says the “show’s artistic choices do a lot to inject energy and creativity into all that gloom.”

Will Monsterland return for Season 2?

As we know, anthologies are all the rage these days. Monsterland hasn’t received an early renewal, but I’m sure it could continue if it performs well. Beyond using more stories from Ballingrud’s collection, Laws could also pull from other stories and ideas to create future episodes.

Many people will seek out horror content in October, so there is a strong possibility that Monsterland will perform well and score a renewal.

Next. 20 of the ultimate fall TV shows available on streaming. dark

Are you planning to watch Monsterland? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

All eight episodes of Monsterland Season 1 will begin streaming on Hulu this Friday, Oct. 2.