This week, Shudder brought us two more stories, both of which aren’t quite what they seem in the beginning. And with stories this twisted, we’re bound to be shocked, and may even learn something along the way. So let’s take a closer (spoiler-filled) look at “All Hallow’s Eve” and “The Man in the Suitcase”.
Spoilers Ahead – You’ve Been Warned!!!
“All Hallow’s Eve” – Directed by John Harrison, Written by Bruce Jones
In a beloved horror series like this, it’s great to get our first story set on Halloween to really get us in the spirit! The story begins with a group of friends (who refer to themselves as the “Golden Dragons”) gathering on Halloween night to go trick or treating. At first, they seem too old for it (and even acknowledge this), but nevertheless, they participate in this age old tradition.
Initially, they seem like any other group of teenage friends, cracking jokes at each other’s expense, and just having a great time. But as they get to the first house, and the homeowner has slim pickings in terms of candy, they seem rather demanding. It’s here that we first realize that there’s something more to this group of teens. As they go on to another house, the husband and wife inside are downright terrified of them.
What first seemed like the sour attitudes of entitled teenagers is slowly revealed to be something far more sinister. The final house they go to contains a mother with a shotgun who insists that they will not take her son Eddie. But they refuse to back down and take Eddie by force, at which point the tragic backstory of the Golden Dragons is revealed.
Several years earlier, Eddie (along with his friends) played a nasty prank on these teens, locking them in their treehouse and setting the tree ablaze with a match. But in the wake of their untimely and unjust deaths, their spirits return each Halloween night to seek vengeance on those that killed them. With the killing of Eddie, they finish their task and return to their graves, now finally able to rest.
What really makes this story work is the gradual tone shift. It goes from typical fun and lighthearted to disturbing, but it happens very slowly, allowing for a sense of dread and suspense to build. By the time the Golden Dragons reach Eddie’s house, we’ve figured out that they’re there to “take” him, and the fact that his mom gives him up to appease the spirits is disturbing for a host of other reasons.
But it’s not all about scares either. The final scene in the graveyard is actually quite poignant and tragic. Sure, their spirits can finally know rest, but this vengeful mission every Halloween at least gave them something to do, as well as an opportunity to still see each other. As one says to another, “I’ll see you in my dreams,” it’s made quite clear that this is a very bittersweet moment for all of them.
Overall, it’s a great story that seeks to both unsettle you, as well as maybe draw a tear from your eyes.
“The Man in the Suitcase” – Directed by David Bruckner, Written by Christopher Buehlman
Following in a long line of cautionary folk tales, “The Man in the Suitcase” reminds us of the dangers of being greedy. The story begins with Justin flying home to ask his father for more money. His recent financial troubles, along with his overall lack of ambition have even caused his girlfriend Carla to break up with him.
His situation gets even stranger when his suitcase begins to talk, and upon opening it, he discovers a man inside, all twisted and bent out of shape. The very polite man asks for help getting out of the suitcase, but Justin soon discovers that any time the man is in pain, gold coins shoot out of his mouth.
Upon discovering his newly found financial fortune, he lets his roommate and ex-girlfriend Carla in on the secret. She’s now okay being with him due to this new cash flow. Soon enough, the three of them become overrun with greed and subject the poor suitcase man to unimaginable pain and suffering, just yield more wealth for themselves.
Eventually, all this greed and cruelty gets to Justin and he begs Alex and Carla to stop, only for them to bash him over the head, leaving him in the hospital. They continue with their gruesome electrocution of the suitcase man. Just as he seems like he’s about to die (which doesn’t stop them), his eyes glow and in a dazzling puff of smoke, he escapes the suitcase and reveals himself to be a dark genie.
Whether by divine reason or not, this entire ordeal was merely a test of greed and Alex and Carla failed miserably, while Justin’s act of kindness allowed him to pass. As their penance, the avaricious duo are shoved into suitcases themselves, forced to endure the very same pain for profit they themselves had been the perpetrators of.
“The Man in the Suitcase” feels very much like an old fashioned folk tale with a moral, much like “The Monkey’s Paw”. Its tone is just surreal enough to make the premise believable in the realms of the story. One could even make the argument that it’s one giant metaphor for the exploitation of workers’ pain and suffering in the name of profits.
What did you think of this week’s episode? What do you hope to see next? Let us know in the comments below and don’t forget to check back next week for another review of Shudder’s Creepshow!
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