This season of Creepshow continues to vary from week to week. While last week’s episode proved a bit uneven, this week’s episode sees a pair of well-executed, entertaining stories. In the first, a man gets seduced by a siren in a clever twist on a familiar idea. And in the second, a family tries to survive in the midst of a demonic plague. While neither story is particularly scary, both of them are endlessly creative and enormously fun.
Note: Mild spoilers for Episode 3×04 of Creepshow follow.
Barry can’t believe his luck when a cute girl invites him to her place for a drink, but he quickly learns he was duped by a siren and he’s in for way more than he bargained for.
Written by Jordana Arkin and directed by Axelle Carolyn, “Stranger Sings” offers a clever twist on traditional siren stories. After awkwardly flirting with Sara (Suehyla El-Attar), a girl he met at a bookstore, Barry (Chris Mayers) finds himself enchanted by a siren, Miranda (Kadianne Whyte). Miranda wants to become a normal mortal and tasks Barry with removing her voice box and giving it to Sara. And, naturally, things only get weirder from there. The thing that stuck out most about this story was how unpredictable it was. Going in, it’s easy to expect a pretty traditional siren story. However, that’s very much not what happens. There are moments where it comes close, but Arkin and Carolyn subvert these expectations at every turn in increasingly delightful ways.
As is often the case with Creepshow stories, the story lacks much in the way of character development. But I think the novelty of how unique this story ended up being more than offsets any subpar character work. The pacing, too, is excellent. Every time you start getting a little tired of what’s going on (the awkward flirting at the beginning, Barry’s hesitance in helping Miranda, etc), the episode quickly shifts things in another direction. Adding onto that, the design of the siren was insanely cool. The design leans into the bird-like origin of sirens (as opposed to the mermaid-like designs that often appear in movies and TV shows). Plus, the siren makeup was insanely rad. All in all, “Stranger Sings” is a well-executed story that takes a well-worn idea into new places. It’s a great time.
When a demonic pandemic strikes, a teenager fights to keep her family safe. But when she realizes they may have been infected, can she find the strength to fight the Devil’s plague?
In all honesty, I’m not sure if a story about an apocalyptic plague is as fun these days as it might’ve been two years ago. But despite that, “Meter Reader,” written by John Esposito and directed by Joe Lynch, offers a fun twist on the idea. When Dalton (Johnathon Schaech), a man immune to the pandemic, returns home after a period of helping the infected, his family fears his immunity may have expired. And things only get worse when daughter Theresa (Abigail Dolan) notices her mother, Maria (Cynthia Evans), and brother, Michael (Boston Pierce), start showing signs of infection. It’s a quick-paced story that, while a little on the short side, packs a pretty fun punch. The idea of combining a viral apocalypse with demonic possession is such a clever one, and Esposito and Lynch explore it deftly.
The atmosphere is absolutely stunning. The daylight sequences look like something out of a Mad Max movie. And all of the demonic possession sequences seem ripped right out of The Exorcist. And speaking of those demonic possessions, the design of the infected is excellent. Again, it’s a pretty blatant callback to The Exorcist, but it never feels derivative. Just boundlessly creative. I did have a few problems with the story, though. In addition to the story being a bit too short, I’m also not sure Esposito and Lynch ever entirely nailed the tone. The story seems like it should be campier (or scarier) than it is. Instead, “Meter Reader” exists in this weird sort of middle ground. And the conflicting tones end up clashing more than I’d like them to. However, the positives vastly outweigh the negatives, resulting in a deeply enjoyable and endlessly creative story.
This week’s Creepshow was light on scares but heavy on fun. On display in both stories, however, is an endless amount of creativity. From the creature designs, to the twists and turns in the stories, to the atmosphere itself, both “Stranger Sings” and “Meter Reader” are worthy additions to the Creepshow canon. The performances in both stories are superb, the writing is solid, and the visuals are gorgeous. While this episode doesn’t quite match the heights reached by the second episode, these stories are simply an enormous amount of fun.
New episodes of Creepshow premiere Thursdays on Shudder.
Part-time writer, part-time theatre nerd, full-time dork.