This week’s episode of Creepshow features a mixed bag of stories, with one working much better than the other. In the first story, an art collector gets more than he bargained for after buying a rare piece of art. In the other, a prisoner with a love of spiders tries to make the best out of his less-than-ideal circumstances. I enjoyed the second story a lot more than the first. But both stories are a bit longer than they need to be and could use more character development. However, the visuals remain stellar, the performances are strong, and the scares are some of the best of the season.
Note: Slight spoilers for Episode 3×03 of Creepshow follow.
The Last Tsuburaya
An art collector purchases the last painting from an artist famous for creating terrifying works, but he never anticipated the ways the painting would change his life.
This is one of those stories that’s hard to talk about without spoiling a lot of it. So, bear with me. Written by Paul Dini & Stephen Langford and directed by Jeffrey F. January, “The Last Tsuburaya” feels at home with many other Creepshow stories. A self-centered, archetypal tech billionaire, Wade (Brandon Quinn), buys a priceless painting from underneath the nose of a museum. And, predictably, his hubris and general disregard for the sacredness of the art brings about his own misfortune. On the surface, it’s a great idea for a story. And the direction is good, particularly in the story’s final ten minutes. January uses a lot of camera tricks to hide (and reveal) Tsuburaya’s Monster (Nate Andrade) to great effect. And the design of the monster, itself, is also great, coming across as a good blend of Asian and American horror imagery.
The problem with the story is that there’s too much padding in the script. For me, the only reason to make a Creepshow vignette this slow-paced is if you’re gonna spend all of that time developing the characters or the world/threat. And that’s just not what Dini and Langford do here. There’s very little world-building. And Wade never emerges as anything other than a cartoon archetype of a careless tech billionaire. So, you’re just biding your time waiting for him to finally get his comeuppance. Sure, there’s some satisfaction when things finally take a turn against him. But it takes so long to get to that point that it’s hard to be particularly excited about it. It’s sixteen minutes of build-up, followed by ten minutes of over-too-quickly satisfaction. Ultimately, “The Last Tsuburaya” is a solid premise that’s not executed very well. Some might enjoy it, but it wasn’t for me.
Okay I’ll Bite
Life in prison is tough, and Elmer’s pet spiders make him an easy target on the cell block. Luckily, when Elmer reaches a breaking point, he knows at least his 8-legged friends will have his back.
If spiders aren’t your thing, then “Okay I’ll Bite” might not be the story for you. Written and directed by John Harrison, “Okay I’ll Bite” is a dark, depressing, and frightening tale destined to linger in your mind long after you watch it. Elmer (Nick Massouh) spends his days in prison caring for his pet spiders and avoiding Officer Dill (Jackson Beals). However, Elmer’s love for his spiders and hatred of Officer Dill and the other prisoners leads him down a dark, sticky path of revenge. Again, it’s a really solid premise for a horror vignette, and Harrison makes great use of the prison setting to amp up the tension. While the story’s still a little longer than it needs to be, the pacing is much better and there are plenty of scares throughout the entire story to keep you on your toes.
I simultaneously loved and hated “Okay I’ll Bite.” I hated it because I hate spiders – they’re one of the only things that immediately scares me to my core. So, seeing so many of them throughout the story deeply unsettled me. Which is also why I loved the story. Out of all of the stories featured this season, this one is the one that scared me the most. There’s just something about the way that Harrison films the spiders and ties them into the climax of this story that left me feeling disturbed and uncomfortable – in the best way possible! Some of the characters could’ve used a bit more complexity, but it remains deeply fun watching crummy people get exactly what they deserve. The acting is great, the tension is high, and the spiders are beyond creepy. So, on the whole, “Okay I’ll Bite” is a pretty effective piece of horror.
I didn’t like this week’s episode anywhere near as much as I enjoyed last week’s. But I still had a good time. While “Okay I’ll Bite” ended up being quite effective, “The Last Tsuburaya” just didn’t work for me. I can see what the intent was, but I’m not sure the execution lived up to the premise. Still, the joy of Creepshow is that even if one of the stories doesn’t quite work for you, there’s a good chance the other will. And that’s what happened this week. “Okay I’ll Bite” ends the episode on a stronger note, and leaves me eager for next week’s episode. So, is this episode a bit of a mixed bag? Sure. But it’s a lot of fun anyway.
New episodes of Creepshow premiere Thursdays on Shudder.
Part-time writer, part-time theatre nerd, full-time dork.