Horror movies have become more and more complex in recent years (the term “elevated horror” has been thrown around, though it remains a contentious phrase among certain critics). Sometimes, though, you just want to hang out with monsters who aren't forcing you to reconcile your complicated relationship with your mother. That's where Shudder's new series Creepshow, a resurrection of Stephen King and George A. Romero’s 1982 classic, comes in.
Celebrating the stories that filled classic horror comics back in their heyday, the new Creepshow proves that the tried and tested formula still works. Each episode tells two stories, with the premiere featuring one tale from King and another from Bird Box writer Josh Malerman. Thanks to this structure, scares are delivered quickly and efficiently, with that familiar sense of dread never hanging around too long.
Fittingly, King’s story – an adaption of his short story Gray Matter – leads the first episode. Set in the same universe as It and Cujo (King fans can smugly spot the references), the tale centers on a boy sent out in a storm to buy his father a case of beer. Simple enough, but King has always been at his best when telling stories of domestic horror. While the effects are more Goosebumps than Game of Thrones, they are perfect for the particular monstrosity that haunts this tale.
The second story is markedly different and concerns a girl's beloved dollhouse. Of course, the dolls inside are not merely static dolls (they move), and they’re certainly not just having an innocent tea party (a dismembered head plays an important part). Watching the dollhouse’s owner, a young girl, checking out each room and witnessing the grisly dioramas within is beautiful visual storytelling. Your eyes will be superglued to the screen until the very end.
While having two very distinct stories could have led to emotional whiplash, the contrast between them, in mood and style, helps highlight the strengths of both. Horror obsessives will have been waiting around for this reboot for some time, and the series will no doubt remind them, as it did myself, of scary comics, Point Horror novels, and those classic movies where the most disturbing thing was the environmental impact of the copious amount of slime being thrown around. But, importantly, underneath the rubber monster suits are two good stories that pull you along at such a pace that there's no time to look for the loopholes or analyze the heroes. It's good, old-fashioned horror fun, and Baphomet knows we need some of that at the moment.
Creepshow premieres on Shudder on September 26.