Season 3 of Creepshow continues with two more schlock-horror tales that deliver on different fronts and with different degrees of success. While the second segment, ‘Familiar’, bristles with genuine scares and a very well created monster, the first segment, ‘Skeletons in the Closet’, falls a little flat despite some terrific set dressing.
Skeletons in the Closet
Memorabilia museum owner Lampini (Victor Rivera) and his beautiful girlfriend Danielle (Valerie LeBlanc) are on the verge on unveiling a new exhibit of rare pieces when they are confronted by a rival memorabilia collector in the form of the seemingly ever-present James Remar. Things soon spiral out of control and after a swift and bloody murder (mostly portrayed by bright, colourful comic-book panels), things only get worse for our horror obsessed couple.
While the set dressings are a horror fan’s wet dream, with Freddy’s glove, Michael Myers mask and the dangerous orbs from Phantasm all making an appearance, there is something altogether a little unedifying about ‘Skeletons in the Closet’. Rivera is ostensibly meant to be our protagonist in the story, but makes for an entitled, incel-like character who shares more characteristics with The Simpson’s Comic-book Guy than he does with reality. At no point in the episode do you feel like the writer (John Esposito) or director (Greg Nicotero) are interested in examining this particular ‘type’ of fanboy and holding their behaviour to account, and instead just play the segment for laughs without any insight.
While there is some waffle about Lampini’s father handing down his collection to his son and of a magic that Danielle sees in him, none of the plot seems particularly well considered or focussed.
While there are fun pastiches of Psycho and of classic Harryhausen fare like Jason and the Argonauts, the segment ends on a ‘comical’ note of necrophilia which is neither as funny nor as interesting as it wants to be.
All of which is a pity; the bones of the segment seem ripe for a critique of that kind of enabled man-baby culture that the horror community attracts at times, but the show seems to have no interest in taking a stab at the flabby underbelly of entitlement.
Now Familiar on the other hand is a wonderfully crafted segment that really delivers the scares, retains that ‘Creepshow-zaniness’ and delivering an ending that is genuinely unsettling. Written by Josh Malerman (Birdbox), the segment runs with a rich vein of racial undertones that never bubble to the surface, but play just well enough to add some depth to the tale.
Jack (Andrew Bachelor) and his girlfriend Fawn (Hannah Fierman) visit a local psychic while on a drunken night out. While the mysterious psychic (Keith Arthur Bolden) gives his showman-like spiel to Fawn, he secretly slips a note under the table to Jack warning him that ‘something has followed you in here’.
Soon, Jack begins to be haunted by a dark and mysterious creature that grows ever more powerful throughout the short, lurking in the shadows and making its malevolent presence known. Returning to the psychic for help, he is told that the creature is his familiar, an entity possibly tied to his desires and ambition that Jack needs to deal with before it destroys his life.
There are some nifty creature effects in Familiar and a terrific call-back to one of Poltergeist’s biggest scares, but the overall tone of creeping dread sets this entry apart from all of season three’s entries so far.
Andrew Bachelor is terrific in the lead role, his desperation driving him to terrible lengths to remove the demon from his life. While Hannah Fierman, a captivating screen presence who first came to fame in a very memorable segment in the first V/H/S film, gets to close the episode off with a really chilling and disquieting scene that is sure to be a season highlight.
Delivering one of the strongest segments of the entire series, episode two has me eagerly looking forward to what dark tales the Creeper brings our way next week….
By: Hugh McStay
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