REVIEW: CREEPSHOW S1E3 takes two steps back and no steps forward

CREEPSHOW episode 1: Bad. Episode 2: Okay. Episode 3: Really not good.

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Creepshow

For those keeping count, the first episode of Shudder’s Creepshow was a mixed bag of horrors that almost completely missed the mark due to uninspired directing and bland comic book effects. Episode 2 gave us a somewhat fun but tension-free werewolf story and the best performance in the series thus far by DJ Qualls in a story about a jealous tiny monster that becomes overprotective of his new friend. The latest episode, the third in a six-part limited series, undoes the small victories attained in episode 2 for two of the least inspired story segments in the horror anthology to date.

Creepshow
“The Man in the Suitcase,” Creepshow

The stories contained in this episode are “All Hallow’s Eve” and “The Man in the Suitcase.” The first one is about a group of friends trick-or-treating in a town that’s dead scared of them knocking on doors for some Halloween candy. The second segment delivers on its title’s promise by literally being about a man in a suitcase, only the man spits gold coins from his mouth whenever pain is inflicted upon him.

The problems start with “All Hallow’s Eve,” which sets the tone for the episode. It’s visually uninteresting and badly acted to the point of distraction. Its main trick-or-treaters (Connor Christie, Madison Thompson, Jasun Jabbar, Andrew Eakle, and Michael May) are, unfortunately, all equally incapable of giving believable performances as terror-inducing kids out on Halloween night. From the minute they step into the screen you get the sense something’s not right with them and that a twist relating to their outing is hiding, badly, just around the corner. When the big twist is finally revealed, I had already figured it all out and was secretly hoping for it not to be what I thought it was.

Creepshow
“All Hallow’s Eve,” Creepshow

I could see director John Harrison (The Librarians) trying to spin a kind of old school young adult horror yarn reminiscent of R.L. Stein’s Goosebumps or even Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (1981), but the characters just don’t feel genuine enough to make us rejoice in the nostalgia of vintage YA horror. It doesn’t help that the dreaded comic book effects that did close to nothing in the previous two episodes are barely used and, when on-screen, are as basic and inconsequential as they’ve been before.

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“The Man in the Suitcase,” on the other hand, is not a complete loss. Dave Bruckner (The Ritual) directs this segment and manages to get, at least, a good performance out of the guy that’s stuffed in the suitcase, Ravi Naidu. The same can’t be said of the young man that picks up the wrong suitcase at the airport, containing the contorted man. Played by Will Kidrachuck, this character is mostly going through the motions of his current predicament without adding much in the urgency and tension departments.

Creepshow
Creepshow, Shudder

As to be expected, the kid calls a couple friends and starts torturing the man in the suitcase for more gold. Sure, there’s something of a metaphor about greed and its corrupting elements there, but nothing really exciting comes out of it. The same can be said about the episode in its entirety. It’s just not compelling, or scary for that matter.

Creepshow feels lost. It doesn’t know what it wants be exactly or how to solve this particular conundrum to give itself some much needed direction. This third episode is the furthest one away from the source material in all of its dimensions and gives little hope for the rest of the series to become a memorable homage to the times of pre-Code EC horror. Let’s see if there’s even a hint of that in the remaining three episodes.

7 COMMENTS

  1. I’ve been super disappointed in this series. “Creepshow” is one of my favorite movies, and this show gets almost nothing right about the concept. I was really looking forward to it, but after the first two episodes, I don’t even think I’m going to finish the season. As a showrunner, Nicotero is nowhere near as effective as he is with makeup and gore effects (even though those are also severely lacking in the show). It’s just a letdown in every conceivable way. An insult to the source material.

  2. In defense of the first episode’s story, it’s actually an adaptation of Bruce Joe’s story from the first issue of Twisted Tales (an excellent 10 issue comic that really nailed the EC vibe.) The actual comic story is pretty great, shame this adaptation kind of missed the point.

  3. disagree… best episode yet… both tales were terrific IMO… also watched with 7 other friends and we all liked them. the second one man in the suitcase was particularly fun… the whole series has been awesome. didn’t know people were griping. i guess that’s to be expected.

  4. Well, Episode 3 of Creepshow continues the trend of having one completely bland and crappy segment (“All Hallows Eve”), and one solid-to-good one (“The Man in the Suitcase”), but with a really crappy ending.

    Absolutely zero gore in either segment, either.

    Halfway through the season now, and so far Creepshow is turning out to be one of the most boring and underwhelming horror anthology shows ever made.

  5. I watched the original “Creepshow” movie this weekend, and was reminded just how great it really is. An absolute classic, with a murderer’s row of horror talent in Romero, King, and Savini. Plus a top-notch cast of veteran and relative newcomer character actors: Hal Holbrook, Fritz Weaver, Viveca Lindfors (her graveside monologue is brilliant), E.G. Marshall (having a ball with the filthy language), Adrienne Barbeau (in her BEST performance ever), and King himself. Just a pure delight, from start to finish.

    Despite my disappointment, I actually hope this show is successful, so it can get a better budget and attract more high-quality talent for a second season. The acting, writing, and directing, even the makeup and special effects, have all been subpar.

  6. episode 1: Both are average at best.
    episode 2: One lame one and the first actually good one
    episode 3: Worst yet, both are pretty terrible.

    Big disappointment overall.

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