31 days of horror movies/series: visit the town of Shining Vale

Shining Vale - Courtesy of Frank Ockenfels III/STARZ
Shining Vale - Courtesy of Frank Ockenfels III/STARZ /

OK, so today’s recommendation is not a film, it’s a series. And although it’s getting pretty close to Halloween to try to finish an entire series, Shining Vale is one you can binge pretty quickly, since it consists of 8 thirty-minute episodes.

This fun comedy horror series stars Courteney Cox and Greg Kinnear as Pat and Terry Phelps, who have relocated from Brooklyn to the small town of Shining Vale. With them are their cute little fluff monster of a pup named Roxie, teenage daughter Gaynor (Gus Byrnie) and son Jake (Dylan Gage). It seems that Pat had a fling with their apartment’s maintenance man, and the move is an effort to reconnect as a family.

On the drive to their new home (which turns out to be a creepy mansion), we get glimpses into the current family dynamics: Pat is highly stressed and suffers from depression as she has been struggling to write a follow-up novel to Cressida Unbound, a racy best-seller she wrote several years prior. Terry, so mild mannered that you want to shake him, is trying to get over the fact that his wife has cheated on him.

As for the kids, Jake is a socially awkward video game fanatic who can barely take his eyes off his phone, and Gaynor is over-hormonal and promiscuous. As the family settles into Shining Vale, we get to meet various townspeople…and we also get to meet the house ghost Rosemary, played to eerie perfection by Mira Sorvino.

Shining Vale
Shining Vale – Courtesy of Kat Marcinowski/STARZ /

Shining Vale drops a lot horror references

In addition to the creepy storyline of Shining Vale, it is chock full of horror movie references. Obviously, given the title, we get more than our fair share of references to The Shining. Terry channels his rage and frustration into chopping more firewood than the Phelpses could use in a year, so he is prone to carrying around an axe, and the curtains in the house are replicas of that iconic carpet print from the Overlook Hotel.

But we also get horror Easter Eggs referring to films such as The Changeling and Paranormal Activity. Though we do get some answers to the mysteries presented in the series, the story is not wrapped up by the eighth episode. But that’s perfectly fine, because Shining Vale has been renewed for a second season!

The perfect blend of laugh out loud comedy and truly shiver-inducing horror hit the sweet spot for me personally, so if you enjoy that mix as well, this is the series for you.

You can watch season one of Shining Vale on Starz, and new subscribers can get a free 7-day trial subscription when they sign up through the website.

Next. 31 days of horror movies: X is the perfect homage to 70s horror. dark

What’s your favorite comedy horror film or series? Tell us all about it in the comments section.