Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Creepshow: Time Out & The Things in Oakwood’s Past

In horror movies (and TV) time will always catch up with your stupid butt. No matter what you do, that bell tolls for you. This week, one character tries to cheat time and another looks forward to what might be preserved in a time capsule, but in this genre, everything comes to a bad end. Frankly, the first story is a bit more Twilight Zone-ish and the other is animated, but it is still all the same difference when the latest episode of Creepshow premieres tomorrow on Shudder.

That wardrobe in “Time Out” (directed by Jeffrey F. January and written by Barrington Smith & Paul Seetachit) is not just a family heirloom. It offers a time-out from the passage of time, as Tim learns, when he inherits it from his grandmother. That means he can pop in on the morning of a law school exam and study for hours (or even days). However, even though time stops in the outside world, he still ages inside. Her final note to Tim cautions against using it too much. She also emphasizes he must always keep the key with him when he goes inside, but seriously, what could go wrong?

Smith & Seetachit’s premise is interesting, like the inverse-opposite of Adam Sandler’s
Click, including the fact that it is entertaining. It isn’t really horror, but it definitely follows in the tradition of tragically ironic anthology stories, such as Twilight Zone’s classic “Time Enough at Last.” “Time Out” is a bit of a series ringer, but it is cleverly conceived and well-executed, so genre fans should definitely appreciate its merits.

In contrast, you can’t get much more
Creepshow than “The Things in Oakwood’s Past” (directed by Greg Nicotero & Dave Newberg, written by Daniel Kraus & Nicotero, with Enol & Luis Junquera credited as animation directors). That’s right, this one is animated, in an entertainingly colorful Creepshow/EC Comics style. Mac Kamen is a human-interest reporter who has come to Oakwood to do a story on the opening of a time capsule discovered by town librarian Marnie Wrightson (presumably a hat-tip to artist Bernie Wrightson).

Wrightson hopes it might hold answers the town’s great mystery. Like Roanoke, the entire population of Oakwood disappeared two hundred years ago. Eventually, the town was re-colonized, but nobody ever figured out what happened.

“Things” is very well served by the animated format because—this is a spoiler, but really not much of a spoiler—the animators were able to create some really off-the-wall monsters. Nevertheless, Ron Livingston and Danielle Harris’s voiceover work for Kamen and Wrightson create some surprisingly effective romantic chemistry. Mark Hamill also gives voice to her father, Mayor Wrightson, but he is definitely the “special guest star.” Regardless, the sly humor and creature rampages will totally please franchise fans.

In fact, both “Time Out” and “Things in Oakwood’s Past” could become fan favorites, for radically different reasons. Highly recommended for anyone who enjoys uncanny anthologies, the latest episode of
Creepshow starts streaming tomorrow (10/21) on Shudder.