Creepshow Season 4 - New Release Review
Director: Greg Nicotero, Kaley Spear, Sam Spear
Starring: Ruth Codd, Samantha Sloyan, Matthew Nelson Mahood, Brendan Taylor, Sari Mercer, William Butler, Jason Bell, Matthew James Dowden
Written by: Jamie Flanagan, Melanie Dale, Todd Spence, Zak White, John Esposito, Mike Scannell
Produced by: Brian Witten
Cinematography by: Robert Draper
Original Score by: Christopher Drake
The fictional Creepshow comic books come to life in this anthology series of terrifying tales hosted by the silent Creepshow ghoul.
Ever since its release in 2019, the spin off TV series of George A. Romero and Stephen King's anthology movie 'Creepshow' has run with the tagline, "the most fun you'll ever have being scared" and to date it has lived up to that promise for the most part. Featuring two tales per episode leaning on the arch and schlockier side of the genre, they tend to look at the idea of "be careful what you wish for" where bad people are bumped off for the bad things they do in the most gruesomely entertaining manner. Helmed by horror legend Greg Nicotero, the series has run for three seasons and two specials with no signs of slowing down with the release of Season 4.
This season casts up all manner of stories spanning various subgenres that feature all the ghouls your dark heart could desire including ghosts, vampires, werewolves and so much more. The series opens with its strongest segment titled 'Cassandra'. Directed by Greg Nicotero and written by Jamie Flanagan, it is the story of a desperate young woman seeking shelter in another woman's home from a monster chasing her, but in doing so she dooms the woman offering her refuge. With a cast featuring frequent Mike Flanagan collaborators Samantha Sloyan and Ruth Codd (who are both terrific in the episode) it strikes the perfect balance between comedy and horror which is in keeping with the spirit of the legacy of the show, setting the series off to a winner.
Other standout segments include 'The Hat' which is a schlocky "monkey paw" tale which pays homage to Stephen King in an over the top, playful manner with dutch angles galore. It tells the story of an aspiring writer who gets more than he bargained for with a talismanic hat which has the ability to help him overcome his writer's block, but of course this comes at a price. This archness continues with 'Parent Death Trap' in the second episode which takes cues from 'The Frighteners' as it is about a young man who is followed by the ghosts of his overbearing judgemental parents who he murdered. It leads to all sorts of groan inducing dialogue from the spectral parents but it works in line with the premise. Despite all of this camp fun there is a fair bit of heart to this season, particularly in the segment 'Meet the Belaskos' which is a tale set in a world where vampire's coexist with humans but face discrimination. Out of this division a romance like Romeo and Juliet emerges between a human and a vampire teenager which works mainly due to their cute chemistry.
As with every season though not every segment is a winner and some segments feel undercooked and others too over reliant on the formula of bad people getting their comeuppance. Having said that, the segment 'To Grandmother's House We Go' tries to invert this premise where the bad person in question seems to be going through some sort of redemptive arc, only it is not enough to save them. Sometimes they feel like a bonus story to the main one which opens a particular episode.
One of the strongest aspects of 'Creepshow', which stretches as far back as the 1982 film are the practical creature effects. Season 4 of the show is no exception with some phenomenal work on display throughout. The rat-like monster from the opening segment 'Cassandra' is an incredible piece of work (thanks in part to the personality instilled through Carey Jones' great performance). Another stand out is the baby creature from the final segment of the series, 'Baby Teeth' which is one of the creepiest things the show has ever produced featuring some excellent puppetry work.
Bookended by two really strong segments, 'Creepshow Season 4' is a solid piece of entertainment as a whole. Continuing the trend of paying homage to the creative giants behind the original film it has brilliance sprinkled throughout it, even when some of the stories aren't working particularly well. As always praise has to be lavished onto the special makeup and creature effects. And some intentionally hammy acting throughout guided by veteran directors of the show as well as newcomers to the show who understand that fun comes first and foremost. It may not be the best season in the show's run as a whole but it certainly features some of the best segments to date which makes the viewer eager enough to welcome the Creep back for another season of gleefully horrific tales.
- Joseph McElroy
'Creepshow S4' premieres exclusively on Shudder October 13th