John Carpenter Returns with Peacock Project That Doesn’t Deserve His Name | TV/Streaming
Movie Reviews

John Carpenter Returns with Peacock Project That Doesn’t Deserve His Name | TV/Streaming

The concept of “John Carpenter’s Suburban Screams” is fundamentally flawed in that these six “true tales of terror” have no real connection other than playing out like disturbing anecdotes you hear at the bar. The vague connective tissue is that each episode is a “true” story told by an interview subject. But they blend supernatural, serial killers, urban legends, domestic violence, and more into this odd stew of vaguely threatening tales. The first episode is an old-fashioned ghost story, the testimony of a man convinced that he was haunted by the specter of a missing girl. The second is the story of a reporter terrified by the escape of a serial killer about whom he had heavily reported. What do these two tales have in common? Nothing really. And this sense that no one bothered to connect the stories of “Suburban Screams” doesn’t go away.

The third episode is a “crazy guy next door” tale that feels the most Carpenter-y in its narrative in its “evil came home” structure, but it’s so poorly made with hideous acting in the recreations and shoddy editing throughout that one can tell it wasn’t directed by Carpenter before the credits roll—the only entertainment I got from this was trying to guess which episode would actually have the Carpenter directing credit at the end. The fourth episode is a ludicrous unpacking of a legend called “The Bunny Man” that essentially doesn’t play by the rules of the show in that it’s not one person’s “true story” as much as an entire community’s spooky stories about an ax-wielding man in a bunny suit (I did wonder if this inspired “Donnie Darko” in any way though).

The fifth episode, about a family moving into a community haunted by ghosts, I think, I don’t know, is incoherent in ways that you rarely see on TV. It seems to be about a family who moves to a new house, and there are weird sounds in the woods and violence nearby. The episode falls apart in ways that are hard to fathom. A guy hears voices in the woods and falls off a ladder before getting surly and alcoholic, leading to the dissolution of his marriage. The theory here is that a haunted patch of land destroyed a family. That’s about it.

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