When I first heard of the new streaming platform Quibi – I honestly had zero interest. My whole life I’ve worked my way up from watching TV on a 12-inch black and white screen when I was a boy to finally having a 60 inch HDR monstrosity in my viewing room so why in the hell would I want to watch something on a 6-inch phone screen?
Turns out that it’s because a show has turned up that is so damned good – I would watch it on a postage-stamp-sized screen if that was what had to happen.
The show of which I’m speaking is 50 States Of Fright – an anthology-style program that during the course of its run will give us tasty bits of horror based on all 50 States of our union. An extra little reason to love it – it’s coming to us from the one and only Sam Raimi – and it is with his talents we dive into the debut segment – aptly coming from his home state Michigan – it is titled The Golden Arm.
The premise is simple – and the terror and blood flow freely. A tale of love and life lost – and vengeance from beyond the grave – and it just goes to show you – never dig up you dead wife and take her arm….just saying. Raimi does what he does best – keeping the scares and gore front and center – all the while giving us a twisted tale that is incredibly well shot and acted. This tale is presented to us in three segments – all of which are roughly 10 or so minutes long – each segment ending with its only little cliffhanger. I love the format – each segment feeling like a tasty little snack of terror, propelling you to another bite.
The Golden Arm is a fun start – but there is so much more to come. The second segment takes us on the road and we end up in Kansas where we get to behold Ball Of Twine.
Many surprises await in this segment – the first of which was the appearance of Karen Allen – I love Karen Allen and did not expect to see her. She plays a sheriff in the town which houses the world’s largest ball of twine. I actually remember passing the world’s largest ball of twine during a cross country trip with the parental units when I was young. Didn’t bother to stop – and after seeing this segment – kinda glad I didn’t.
As you might suspect – it turns out the ball of twine has secrets – as does the town – and the sheriff. I don’t want to spoil the fun for you so I’ll stop there but things get weird, really weird and it’s all so much damn fun that you won’t be able to look away. I loved the ingenuity – I loved the originality and I loved this segment. Ball Of Twine will wrap itself around you and not let go.
These segments go by quickly and before you know it – it’s time for story number three and for that we are off to Oregon.
Coming to us from director Ryan Spindell is Scared Stiff – and I think this is my favorite segment of those released so far. This is also the first of the segments to come at us in only two parts. You’ll immediately recognize James Ransone from IT: Chapter Two and he stars, playing an incredibly gifted taxidermist who ends up restoring some roadkill that ends up being one of Bigfoot’s kids.
Once he finishes his restoration – Mom (or maybe Dad, they never actually say) comes a-knocking – and wants their little one back. We are treated to one of the best Bigfoots I have ever seen – we get a practical effect monster that is nothing short of spectacular. I actually cheered when that kick-ass beast walked through the door. Again – don’t want to ruin the view for you but seriously – find and watch this segment – it is amazing. Best 15 minutes of horror this year.
Now that Oregon has taken my breath away – we are ushered to Minnesota where we behold the horrors of Grey Cloud Island. For this segment, we are back to the three-part format that graced the first few episodes. We delve into the well-used horror trope of a group of frat pledges who find themselves dumped in a supposed haunted location and of course – things get spooky. Not only spooky but kind of bat shit crazy.
We’ve got damsels in distress – robe-clad Viking dudes – plenty of gore – and a pretty kick-ass ending. While this chapter is fun – I found it just a bit…..empty. By the time we get to the reveal – I found I really didn’t care. I might have just been feeling a little high from the kick-ass Bigfoot I was still in amazement over. Grey Cloud Island deserves its place in this series – it just for me, paled in comparison to the segments that came before it.
New segments are continuously released – at the time of writing this review the first segment in the tale set in Florida – titled Destino has just been released. It appears to have a found footage vibe – and was written by Blair Witch Project alum Eduardo Sánchez and Gregg Hale. Reason enough to be waiting to watch this one. I haven’t seen enough of this one to give it an opinion – perhaps I’ll visit future episodes as this series progresses.
As I stated at the start – the biggest turn off for me heading into this was the fact that I would have to watch it on my phone. For shits and giggles – I tried streaming it from my iPhone to my Apple TV – didn’t work. The commercials would stream – the shows would not. So – I turned to my iPad Pro – the larger screen worked for me – and the caliber of programing made me realize – I would find a way to view this if it meant watching it from across the room on someone else’s smartphone.
50 States Of Fright is some of the best horror storytelling I have been treated to this year and I can not recommend strongly enough that you download the Quibi app and get busy on your own roadmap of horror. Quibi is offering a 90-day free trial right now – and after that, it’s $4.99 a month. If this is the quality of show they will be giving us – it will be money well spent.