Creepshow S01 e01 premiered on Shudder recently, but I hadn’t had a chance to watch it. Well, that has finally been rectified, and I am happy to say it was worth the wait. This episode, like all the upcoming ones, apparently, has two stories in it. I like this format because it gives us more bang for our buck, and helps ensure there is all meat, no filler.
The first story, Gray Matter, is a telling of the Stephen King story of the same name. It’s about a teenage boy, Timmy, and his Daddy. I read the story yeas ago in middle school, so I don’t remember all the details. I do remember that it was creepy (duh! it’s King), and the show definitely lived up to that promise. The plot is simple. Timmy’s Momma dies, leaving him and his father alone together. Daddy, who always enjoyed his Friday night Harrow’s Supreme beer starts drinking excessively. Then, he loses his job and starts watching afternoon soaps. Grief does strange things to us all.
When we first meet Timmy, it is in a general store on the night of a big storm. He has come for a case of Harrow’s. The Sheriff and the town doctor are in the shop, shooting the shit like always. These little moments between characters establish their relationship and let the reader know this is something they do. As far as quick and effective world building and place setting, there are few better ways to do so.
As the story continues, we learn that something nasty has happened to Daddy, after all this is a horror story. I won’t reveal too much about the details, suffice to say there are some gruesome effects and a good sense of dread throughout the short.
Creepshow S01 E01 House of the Head
This is the second story of the episode, and while the colors are a little brighter, the story is just as dark, if not darker. House of the Head tells the story of a little girl and her dollhouse, so already it’s freaky. I mean, come on, dollhouses can be quite scary. Not always, sure, but more often than not. Or is that just me?
Anyway, Evie, the girl, has a new ‘one of a kind’ dollhouse–which adds to the unease. Anytime something is ‘one of a kind’ in a horror story it’s never good. It’s never, oh, that car is one of a kind; it will get you where you need to be and never break down. No, it’s more, that car is one of a kind and it will kill all your friends and drive you to madness.
The dollhouse is nice, though, and Evie has inhabited it with a nice family called the Smithsmiths. They have a dog, a son named Ethan, and all is well when Evie leaves for school one morning. However, things change quickly. Upon her return home she sees that a new inhabitant has move into the house: a disembodied head.
If I found this head in my dollhouse, I would freak. Not Evie, though. She’s just all, you don’t belong here, whatever. As things progress she gets more and more creeped out by the head, but she never loses her wits. She just buys more dolls that she thinks can solve the problem for her. I won’t say how things end, but I will say Evie is full of hope when she leaves the dollshop with her new Native American doll.
Thematic Similarities Between Episodes
Overall, Creepshow S01 e01 is a strong start to the series. The two tales they chose resonate thematically with each other because they both present children dealing with horrific events. Also, they act as a nice contrast to one another. Gray Matter is shot in odd angles and has a very dark aesthetic. The lighting is dim or nonexistent, which really amplifies the feelings of terror.
House of the Head on the other hand, is brightly lit, and shot in wide open frames. Even though most of the action takes place in Evie’s bedroom, the episode never really felt claustrophobic to me. Despite the well lit shots and feeling of space, there was still a strong feeling of unease in this story as well.
I wouldn’t say that either tale is particularly scary. There aren’t jump scares or things like that. But, I will say a feeling of fear and despair permeates them, which is a different kind of horror. It may not scare you in the moment, but it has greater potential to keep you awake at night, turning your head at noises in the dark.
One thing I didn’t like was the repetition of ‘Daddy’ in Gray Matter. They used it so much that it became annoying, and I wanted them to find a synonym.
Something else that was cool was all the Stephen King references in Gray Matter. There is a missing pet board with Church and Cujo. There is mention of something scary in the sewers. And I am sure there were more that I missed. And while I loved the references, I did find them a little distracting because I wanted to pay attention to them as well as the story. Still, I did appreciate them.
Oh, and the nod to John Carpenter’s The Thing at the end of Gray Matter was great, too.
Have you seen Creepshow S01 E01? Did you like it? Leave your thoughts in the comments please. I will be reviewing the episodes as close to their premiere as possible. A new episode drops every Thursday (Friday for me). I will try to have my review up by Saturday my time. It might be difficult, though, because my internet in China is not always 100% reliable.
Thanks for reading.