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The Sister Is The New Psychological Horror From The Creator Of Luther – And It's Perfect For Halloween

Ash Percival
·Entertainment Editor, HuffPost UK
·5 min read

If you’ve already made your way through Netflix’s Halloween offerings, and fancy something a bit more alternative, ITV has got the perfect drama for you this week, as psychological horror The Sister debuts.

From Neil Cross, best known as the creator of Luther, The Sister is guaranteed to send chills down your spine as it airs over the next four nights.

Here’s everything you need to know about the new drama…

(Photo: ITV)
(Photo: ITV)

What is The Sister actually about?

A synopsis for the show explains: “Nathan seems to have it all — a loving wife, a beautiful home and a solid, if unexciting, career. But Nathan has never been able to forget the worst night of his life: a New Year’s Eve party 10 years ago, which led to the sudden, shocking death of a young woman… the sister of the woman who is now his wife.

“Only he and Bob, an eccentric old acquaintance, know what really happened — and they’ve resolved to keep it that way. Until one rainy evening, years later, when Bob appears at Nathan’s door with terrifying news. They’re digging up the woods.”

The story of its conception is chilling in itself

As already mentioned, The Sister is the brainchild of Luther creator and writer Neil Cross, and his based on his 2009 novel Burial.

The story was inspired by a real-life experience which he had following a drunken night out as a teenager, after which he had a vivid recollection of stabbing a man to death after taking a shortcut home through some woods.

He, of course, didn’t really kill anyone, but spent 20 years haunted by his hallucinations, fearing that he might have done, checking missing persons reports and searching for news stories of a body found in the woods.

“I was compelled to because it always seemed much too vivid to have been a dream,” he explains. “Dreams fade. This did not. It had exactly the qualities of memory... and like all such memories, it haunted my sleepless nights. A small, haunted part of me always wondered: what if I’d actually done it?”

This was the starting point for Burial and The Sister, which Neil says is “about someone fundamentally decent who is haunted by guilt — and perhaps by something else.”

The story is told in a different way to the book

While Burial works across a linear narrative, Neil realised he had to tell the story in a different way for TV, deconstructing it and rebuilding it across three timelines.

“There is a 2010 timeline, a 2013 timeline and a present day timeline,” he explains. “They are nested like Russian dolls; which is something I had never tried to do before. I’m a very linear storyteller, typically.

“It seemed to me to be the right way to tell this story. That was exciting and liberating and it freed me from all these assumptions about the book. About what needed to be kept in.”

The Sister boasts an accomplished and well-known cast

Russell Tovey (Years And Years, Being Human, Him & Her) plays Nathan, who is described as “incredibly likeable, but ordinary”. While we was once a bright-eyed lad about town, the events of a fateful night long ago transformed him into a measured, sensible, fearful adult.

Russell Tovey as Nathan (Photo: ITV)
Russell Tovey as Nathan (Photo: ITV)

He says: “[Nathan] seems to be in a good place having made some better choices in his life. He is coping but he has some anxieties that sit with him all the time.

“Someone from his past turns up on his doorstep, causing the past to come flashing right back and sets off a chain of events.

Bertie Carvel (Doctor Foster, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell) plays Bob, a former academic and so-called paranormal expert. However, when we meet him a decade later, it becomes clear that his desire to prove naysayers wrong has cost him his sanity, and he is now living a squalid basement flat, isolated and unemployed.

Bertie Carvel as Bob Morrow (Photo: ITV)
Bertie Carvel as Bob Morrow (Photo: ITV)

He is the figure from Nathan’s past who suddenly turns up on his doorstep, sending his life into disarray.

“It’s almost as though Bob has carried the weight of all of those years since they last met a lot less successfully than Nathan seems to have done,” Bertie explains.

Amrita Acharia (Game Of Thrones, The Good Karma Hospital) plays Holly, Nathan’s wife, and the sister of Elise, the woman whose death he was responsible for a decade prior.

Amrita Acharia as Holly Fox (Photo: ITV)
Amrita Acharia as Holly Fox (Photo: ITV)

Her sister’s mysterious disappearance changed her forever and she still clings to the hope that Elise is alive and will come home one day.

Amrita says: “When Holly meets Bob for the first time, she senses straight away that something is not quite right.

“Nathan is not really someone who is particularly social — so this unexpected visitor to their house comes as something of a surprise to her. Everything starts to go downhill from that moment onwards because it all starts to unravel.”

Nina Toussaint-White (Bodyguard, EastEnders, Emmerdale) plays Jacki, Holly’s best friend and a detective on the Elise Fox investigation, who is determined to find answers for Holly and her family.

Nina Toussaint-White as Jacki Hadley (Photo: ITV)
Nina Toussaint-White as Jacki Hadley (Photo: ITV)

Amanda Root (Unforgotten, The Forsyte Saga, All About Me) appears as June, Holly and Elise’s mother, while Paul Bazely (Benidorm, Critical, Black Mirror) plays the girls’ father Graham.

Why should I watch it?

With elements of horror and the supernatural, The Sister is unlike other psychological thrillers that have aired on mainstream TV this year.

Russell describes it as “scary and dangerous”, adding that it is a “unique show with its own surreal energy and dynamics”.

He continues: “Viewers watching the show are meant to wonder what is going on and be second guessing everything. You are meant to be doubting and questioning who is right and who is wrong.

“You think you know the characters Neil has created but then with a flip of a coin you have no idea who they are.”

When is it on?

The Sister begins on Monday 26 October at 9pm on ITV, continuing over the following three nights.

Watch the trailer


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This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.