Remnants of Greek mythology and zombie-like demons occupy this week’s installment of Creepshow.
Axelle Carolyn and Jordana Arkin get things started with “Stranger Sings”, a comical segment about a meet-cute gone terribly wrong. When Sara (Suehyla El-Attar) has her hands full at the store, a doctor named Barry (Chris Mayers) steps in to help. Barry at first hesitates to reach out; a recent and bad breakup has left him feeling uncertain. Sara instead welcomes Barry’s assistance and even lets him accompany her home. Barry later declines Sara’s offer to come inside for a drink, but he eventually changes his tune — or rather, he changes his mind when he hears an enchanting tune. The afternoon soon takes a turn once Barry steps inside Sara’s house.
“Stranger Sings” is a classic example of subverting expectations. Sara is approached by the random man whose ‘nice guy’ behavior might normally raise a few red flags, but she finds him more charming than creepy. Their early banter is friendly, if not awkward for both the parties involved and the viewers. Where things change is Sara’s sudden invitation. Seasoned watchers of horror are naturally distrustful of any and all unusual situations, and in this case, their suspicions are founded.
Carolyn and Arkin’s segment is surprising once all the cards are on the table, but it also does not leave much of an impression after the fact. As per usual, the creature involved is a delight to look at and helps connect the episode to the show’s overall theme. Yet that is something Creepshow is becoming too known for; featuring a standout practical effect or design but delivering a flat story.
The episode completely shifts moods with Joe Lynch and John Esposito’s “Meter Reader”. Set in a grave new world where waste collection is for severed heads rather than garbage, people are shut off from society as a mysterious scourge continues to sweep the planet. The segment centers on one particular family whose patriarch (Johnathon Schaech) has left to serve a higher calling of sorts. Meanwhile, his wife and kids anxiously await his return.
This is a dismal and unrelenting story inspired by the times we are living in. In place of an enduring virus is a demonic threat that forces people to quarantine and evokes arguments. There is no end in sight for the world here. The characters possess two attitudes toward the situation; the optimist who thinks things will turn out for the better, and the realist who no one wants to listen to. The plot is entirely topical, so anyone looking for escapism may not find it in “Meter Reader”. On the other hand, it is a potent time capsule for this era of humanity. Lynch and Esposito do a good job of funneling real-life anxieties into their story.
This episode is made up of two disparate tales; one lighthearted and one serious. The distinct differences between them create a tonal whiplash, but Creepshow fans appreciate the variety.
New episodes of Creepshow Season 3 are released every Thursday on Shudder.