Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Two Sentence Horror Stories: Instinct & Imposter

Horror movies and TV shows absolutely hate the gig economy. They aren’t too crazy about corporate America either. Of course, being a camp counselor is out, so just how are you supposed to make a living in the horror genre? Two Sentence Horror Stories only tells viewers what not to do in the next four sentences, “Instinct” and “Imposter,” premiering tonight on the CW.

“Instinct,” the better of the two, starts off violently, but it turns out it is all the musings of Anika, who considers herself an aspiring mystery writer, but it looks like her tastes lean more towards horror. She is waiting for her latest Task Rabbit-like app gig painting some rich dude’s apartment. He is a bit squirrely, but then again, so is she. Frankly, he is reasonably hospitable and super-patient considering how much time she is taking. Yet, she convinces herself he must be a serial killer, with the help of her imaginary victim-muse.

Directors Kailey & Sam Spear do a nice job maintaining the tension, but we can guess the big twist, simply by virtue of it appearing in a horror anthology. Sunita Prasad and Leanne Lapp are both pretty good as the would-be writer and her personified imagination, but Sehaj Sethi’s storyline is just too much like dozens of other things we’ve already seen.

“Imposter,” directed by Jennifer Liao, is pretty predictable too, but it lacks any sense of suspense. A junior financial analyst is on the verge of selling his soul. Not only is he set to receive his firm’s “Associate of the Year” award, he is also engaged to a coworker, who happens to be the boss’s daughter, but he is really the victim, because he has been forced to turn his back on his Filipino heritage. On the night of the awards banquet, a shadowy doppelganger starts stalking him. To make matters even more painful, his Alzheimer’s-afflicted mother recognizes the doppelganger, adorned in traditional peasant attire, as her son, rather than him.

There are a lot of problems with “Imposter,” but the biggest are the design and costuming of the doppelganger, which are not the least bit scary or intimidating (even with the machete). As a result, the episode just serves as a big lecture regarding-selling out, without any competent genre business to wash it down. Frankly, Lou Ticzon’s analyst is just way too wishy-washy to be a credible up-and-coming financial player—and the idea he could romance the firm’s princess is almost impossible to buy into. Its not like there is any chemistry there.

Two Sentence Horror Stories
is usually a lot of fun, but this is not the series’ best week. “Instinct” is watchable, but experienced genre fans will know exactly where it is going. In contrast, “Imposter” is more of a cautionary example of what happens when the message dramatically overshadows the story, atmosphere, effects, and characters that are supposed to convey it. Fortunately, there is always next week. This week, fans can start “Instinct,” but everyone should skip “Imposter” when they premiere tonight (1/19), as part of the current season of Two Sentence Horror Stories, on the CW.