Derrick Dunn

Derrick Dunn

Suburban Screams hits more than it misses Time

One of the masters of horror, John Carpenter, brings his talents to the comfort of your own home in the horror anthology Suburban Screams. Airing on Peacock, the six-episode series unearths the evil lurking in the suburbs. Suburban Screams stories play through reenactments and feature detailed encounters with actual slashers, psychos, demons, and ghosts that terrorize the nation’s neighborhoods, as told by the everyday people who survived them.

The first episode is titled “Kelly” and tells the story of a party that takes a mysterious turn when friends accidentally summon the ghost of a local murder victim; two witnesses tell the tale of how this restless spirit attached herself to an unsuspecting host and changed. Subsequent episodes carry titles such as “A Killer Comes Home,” “House Next Door,” ” Bunny Man,” “Phone Stalker, and “Cursed Neighborhood.”

John Carpenter’s last directorial effort was the 2010 horror film The Ward, which went largely unnoticed. Before that, Carpenter took a hiatus after the poorly received Ghosts of Mars in 1999. Horror fans should know that Carpenter doesn’t direct all episodes in the series; he shares the job with others. So, how does Carpenter’s latest project stack up? It’s a mixed bag with some solid episodes, while others are overly familiar to horror fans.

The first episode, “Kelly,” does start the series strong as it combines the murder mystery and Ouija boards. In comparison, the second episode focuses on an elusive killer who went on a murder spree in his hometown, recounted by the local newspaper editor and publisher who became his target after covering the story.

I have to say that the second episode, titled “A Killer Comes Home,” is the weakest one in the series as the pacing was languid. The episode “House Next Door” was decent, but some film enthusiasts feel that the director’s approach was too similar to Disturbia and Rear Window.

My favorite two episodes, though, were the fourth and fifth ones. Both episodes occur in the DMV area (where I reside), so they hit a bit closer home for me. Episode 4 carries the moniker “Bunny Man” and centers on residents of a quaint Virginia neighborhood sharing terrifying stories of encounters with an axe-wielding maniac in a rabbit suit; the legend was born a hundred years ago but has since turned into a deadly reality traumatizing residents for decades.

Episode 5, “Cursed Neighborhood is about A mother and daughter who tell the horrific story of moving into their first home; without knowing that the suburban land is cursed, they attract a vengeful spirit that will do everything it can to purge them from the neighborhood with deadly results.

In the final episode, “Phone Stalker,” Carpenter directs a story about a woman stalked by a shrouded tech genius who endures horrific threats. Carpenter takes a deep dive into the twisted account, highlighting how it became a living nightmare that ruined the woman’s relationships and has her seeing danger around every corner.

Although the network is using Carpenter’s name as a selling point for viewers, the series isn’t a total wash. The mission, however, was accomplished if the intent was to focus on the dark side of suburbia.

Final Grade: B

Suburban Screams begins airing on Peacock on Friday, October 13th.

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