Review by Sean Boelman
Although a COVID-related delay means that fans will have to wait until next year for the return of Shudder’s anthology series Creepshow, the service is giving fans an animated special to satisfy their cravings for the macabre. Yet despite offering the reunion of showrunner Greg Nicotero (The Walking Dead) with Stephen King and his son Joe Hill, A Creepshow Animated Special is mostly underwhelming.
As is the case with much of the series, this animated special features two segments derived from short stories (there is no original concept in this entry). Presumably to minimize budget and emphasize safety, there are few speaking roles in either concept, with narration from the segment’s respective central character serving as the main method of storytelling.
The first of the two segments, “Survivor Type”, is based on a short story by King and, for better or worse, feels somewhat reminiscent of “Something to Tide You Over” from the 1982 film. It’s a lot more grounded than what viewers will have come to expect from the property, and there are some legitimately disturbing moments, but it isn’t the campy fun for which most viewers will be tuning in to find.
Hill’s contribution, “Twittering from the Dead”, is the more entertaining prospect, and benefits from the increased scale allowed by the animated format. That said, by limiting the film to a Twitter-style narration, the story loses a lot of its intensity and instead feels largely comedic, missing an easy opportunity to be truly creepy.
For the cast, Nicotero tapped Kiefer Sutherland and Joey King to play the leads of the two segments, respectively. Sutherland does a solid job of conveying emotion through his vocal performance, but one is left to wonder how much better it would have been had this story been adapted to live-action. King feels typecast as what is essentially a teen scream queen.
One of the more frustrating things about the special, though, is that it feels surprisingly out-of-touch. Creepshow has always been didactic, but the morals of these stories feel particularly curmudgeonly. “Twittering from the Dead”, in particular, feels like an old man rambling about his misgivings with today’s youth.
And the animation is sure to be divisive. For those expecting a dynamically-animated approach, they will undoubtedly be disappointed by the style that more closely resembles a motion comic. It fits given the comic book framing device around which the series is built, but it is admittedly rough.
A Creepshow Animated Special has one story that might have been more interesting in live-action and another that is a dud. As a Halloween gift to fans, it’s entertaining enough, but one almost wishes that this effort would have been redirected into making the next season of the show.
A Creepshow Animated Special streams on Shudder beginning October 29.