Welcome to Haunted MTL’s ongoing coverage of Shudder’s original series, Creepshow. The last episode was a combination of one of the best installments the show had and one of the weakest, which made for a fairly strong half-hour overall because even a week Creepshow segment is good anyway. This week, however, both installments are pretty great.
David Bruckner directs and Matt Venne writes an adaptation of a short story. The original short story was written by Joe, Kasey, and Keith Lansdale. It’s a family affair this week. This is Bruckner’s sixth segment of the show thus far. His highlight, however, is still “The House of the Head,” but he also directed the fantastic “The Man in the Suitcase.” Venne has written for Masters of Horror, Bag of Bones, and the 2013 sequel to Fright Night.
“The Companion” is a lean little tale that stars Logan Allen, Dylan Gage, Voltaire Council, and Afemo Omiliani. The impressive, sinister scarecrow is performed by Carey Jones, a veteran make-up and SFX talent who has had quite the resume.
The story has that certain quality that I felt was missing from last week’s “All Hallow’s Eve,” and that quality is a certain sort of meanness. The story follows a kid, Harold, on the run from his bully, who just happens to be his older brother, Billy. During his escape, Harold stumbles onto an abandoned farm and awakens a vengeful scarecrow. He later finds the corpse of the farmer, face blown off in gruesome detail, who has left behind a note telling a sad tale. It’s very much a play on that Frankenstein story of the unintended consequences of creating life, and for the most part, it works. What really sells the episode, though, is the fact that Harold learns absolutely nothing from his traumatic experience. Instead, he buys in and uses the scarecrow for vengeance.
“The Companion” is pretty great. There are some choices that feel like they could have been reconsidered. The kindness of the character of Smitty, for example, feels a little wasted. He shows up, ends up being a cool kid, but then leaves and has no real effect on the story.
That being said, the usage of the comic panels to show the passage of time in the farmer’s narrative is inspired and one of the more interesting ways the comic trappings have inserted themselves into the episodes.
Plus, that scarecrow was really cool. Good stuff.(4 / 5)
“Lydia Lane’s Better Half”
The second segment of the evening is directed by Roxanne Benjamin. John Harrison handled the teleplay of the story which was developed by Greg Nicotero and Harrison. Roxanne Benjamin has a solid list of production credits, such as with the V/H/S franchise. Most of Benjamin’s directorial credits revolve around short-horror such as Southbound and XX, making her a great fit for Creepshow. Harrison and Nicotero, of course, are horror veterans who need no further introduction.
The episode, which plays out like the most messed up take on Weekend at Bernie’s ever, is anchored by the incomparable Tricia Helfer as the titular Lydia Layne. Helfer holds her own in what is, in many ways, a one-woman morality play with Danielle Lyn spending the majority of her appearance as a vengeful corpse.
“Lydia Lane’s Better Half” is wonderfully dark and grimy in tone, not texture. Visually there is a wonderful cinematic polish to the episode. Neither Lydia or the soon-to-be-dead Celia are good people and the episode is a series of escalations and terrible ideas that play out as you would expect. Creepshow segments are at their best on a small scale, and “Lydia Lane’s Better Half” is a prime example of this. Most of the story takes place in an elevator, stuck in the aftermath of an earthquake. It’s wonderfully screwed up, forcing Lydia to directly confront her actions. Meanwhile, Danielle Lynn, as the corpse of Celia, proves to be a powerful performer with just dead-body language and accusatory stares alone.
The show also has an absolutely fantastic head injury. One for the ages.
“Lydia Lane’s Better Half” is a strong contender for an iconic segment in this series so far. It’s just mean, mean, mean, and filled with terrible decisions that play out about as well as you’d expect. It also feels the most thoroughly modern of the segments thus far, dealing with themes of finances, same-sex relationships, and even a completely unintentional but timely Hong Kong mention. Some of the segments have clearly been contemporary, but this one just feels a little more timely than those.(4 / 5)
The Creep Factor
We don’t get to spend a whole lot of time with the Creep this week. But we do get a rather infectious laugh from the Creep as they read a magazine.
Actually, what gender is the Creep, anyway?
We do get a neat little bonus in “The Companion” as a Creepshow comic works its way into the frame, and the Creep also finds a way to observe the ending of that same segment, first-hand, lurking right outside the window.
We hope that you enjoyed our coverage of the first installment of Shudder’s Creepshow. Creepshow will air on Thursdays around 9 PM EST on Shudder. Haunted MTL will be covering the whole 6 episodes of the first season.