Thursday, August 22, 2019

Two Sentence Horror Stories: Scion

Most insurance companies probably would not cover the treatment offered by this radical cancer clinic, but patients are better off that way. Skeptical patient Noah Ingraham suspects the cure could be even worse than the life-threatening disease in Scion, which premieres tonight on the CW, as the latest creepy tale in the current season of Vera Miao’s Two Sentence Horror Stories.

Ingraham has held up pretty well thanks to the support of his boyfriend Isaac, but his elitist parents are not so warm and fuzzy. It was their idea to check Ingraham into Dr. Lucie’s exclusive clinic, but there is something about the place that rubs him the wrong way. Maybe it is the janitor who looks and acts like he was lobotomized.

Of course, Ingraham initially hopes for the best, but his doubts and suspicions are quickly fueled by Izzy, a fellow patient, who happens to be the black sheep of a fabulously wealthy blue-blooded clan. Soon, Ingraham is experiencing vivid nightmares and losing time. According to Dr. Lucie, these are common side effects of the treatment, but that is not very reassuring, is it?

In some ways, Scion parallels Alice Waddington’s soon-to-be-released Paradise Hills, but director Natalia Iyudin and screenwriter Sehaj Sethi do not let the foreboding and dread get lost amid the woke statement-making. Iyudin deftly capitalizes on the claustrophobic setting and Ingraham’s very relatable position of vulnerability to build tension. It maintains the season’s impressive style and production standards, especially the work of cinematographer Guy Poole and the design team, who greatly contribute to the eerie mood. 

As Dr. Lucie, Kate Jennings is entertainingly sinister and arrogant, in the best tradition of horror movie doctors. Most of the waspy characters are rather bland and perhaps logically so, but Stanley Simmons chews the scenery with admirable zeal as the rebellious Izzy. Plus, the facility itself could pass for a tony clinic near the Bramford Building (a.k.a. The Dakota), as seen in Rosemary’s Baby.

Scion is another above average example of anthology television, but the heavy-handed conclusion also shows the risks of prioritizing message over story and character. Fortunately, it is outweighed by the ominous vibe and mounting paranoia so nicely realized by Iyudin and company. Still recommended for horror fans, Scion premieres tonight (8/22), as part of the second season of Two Sentence Horror Stories, on the CW.