Friday, October 23, 2020

50 States of Fright Review: Bite Sized Regional Horror

Release date: April 13, 2020
Running time: 14-21 minute episodes
Starring:  Rachel Brosnahan, Travis Fimmel, Taissa Farmiga, Ron Livingston

Quibi series explores stories based on urban legends from different places in the United States, taking viewers deeper into the horrors that lurk just beneath the surface.  These stories follow the usual Quibi format of presenting digestible episodic content that can be appreciated on your phone in short increments.  For this screening we were shown two episodes, The Golden Arm, which was based in Michigan, and Almost There, which was based in Iowa.  

First off, 50 States of Fright is a nice vehicle for some digestible horror.  The stories were quick to get into and, as is usually with Quibi content, evolved quickly and ended each part in a cliffhanger.  But because the episodes are only 2 or 3 parts, there are far fewer cliff hangers and a-ha moments than you might get in a full on, movie-length Quibi experience.  And for these bite-sized horror nuggets, Quibi went all out to get some very talented actors.  The two episodes we saw had some a-list talent doing what they do best.  And for the most part the effects were also very well done.  The short length leads to some really good production values and I definitely enjoyed the spectacle of it.  Of the two, the one set in Iowa was a much better horror film.  It is a more recent episode so I wonder if the 50 States of Fright have evolved since it first debuted in April.  It had a more serious tone, better effects and overall horror feel, and felt less campy than the first one did.  

However, 50 States of Fright's advertised purpose and execution are a little disconnected.  I was excited to see urban legends and other stories from the various states of America, a look into cryptids and other local folklore.  But what you get from the two episodes I've seen is a smattering of horror stories that are simply set in that locale.  There didn't seem to be anything specific about either story that evoked the state or local legends, other than the story just being set there.  It felt like these stories were written, and then just shoehorned into a state to keep the theme going.  And the short length is nice, but it also makes the horror stories less complex than some other episodic horror.  Hulu's Into the Dark is a great example of periodic horror that is themed, but also movie length.  These stories were quick, but felt too simple and over too quickly to really enjoy it.

50 States of Fright brings digestible horror to you, with tales that are set in each of the 50 States.  It provides some great talent, high production values, and a veritable buffet of horror stories.

Rent it.

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