Hulu has ordered a new horror anthology series based on Nathan Ballingrud’s short-story collection North American Lake Monsters, according to Deadline. It’ll be produced by Babak Anvari and Lucan Toh, the creative team behind the horror film Wounds, which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in January. They’re already familiar with Ballingrud’s work: Wounds is based on another Ballingrud story, The Visible Filth. Anvari wrote and directed the movie, and Toh was one of the producers. The film stars Dakota Johnson, Armie Hammer, and Zazie Beetz.
The North American Lake Monsters series is planned as an eight-episode season, produced by Mary Laws, who produced AMC’s Preacher and co-wrote Nicolas Winding Refn’s film The Neon Demon. Hulu says the series will explore the plights of people “driven to desperate acts in an attempt to repair their lives, ultimately showing there is a thin line between man and beast.” Their stories will feature “encounters with Gothic beasts, including fallen angels and werewolves.”
That’s an apt description of Ballingrud’s collection. North American Lake Monsters (the series probably won’t share the same name as the collection; it’s just being called Untitled Mary Laws Project) gathers nine of Ballingrud’s short stories, featuring a man facing werewolves, a Lovecraftian adventure in the arctic, some very scary vampires, and a father and daughter who deal with the discovery of a beached lake monster.
The collection is an outstanding showcase for short horror. The individual stories are fantastic examples of how to pace a story and build a sense of tension, using the supernatural to frame the relatable problems people face everyday. There’s been a glut of good anthology-style shows out there on streaming services — Netflix’s Black Mirror, CBS’s The Twilight Zone, HBO’s Room 104, Amazon’s Electric Dreams, and Hulu’s Dimension 404 — and if it’s done right, this series could be a stand-out entry. If it does well, Hulu would do well to also look at Ballingrud’s latest collection, Wounds, which hit stores back in April.