[Review] “Creepshow” Season 3: ‘Skeletons in the Closet’ References Horror Classics and ‘Familiar’ Catches a Demon

While the premiere was especially uneven, with its second story making up the shortfall, the immediate follow-up in Creepshow’s third season is more well-rounded. As usual, the episode divides itself right down the middle in regards to tone; one half is serious while the other is not. The format tends to work for the show because no two sequential tales should be alike, and variety minimizes the chance of monotony.

Showrunner Greg Nicotero directs his and John Esposito’s story “Skeletons in the Closet”. The first segment concerns a new museum for horror props and the shady practices going on behind the curtains. Victor Rivera plays the enthusiastic owner, Lampini, who is doing everything in his power to uphold his late father’s legacy. After Lampini is visited by his father’s rival collector, Bateman (James Remar), he and girlfriend Danielle (Valerie Leblanc) make quick use of the museum’s props when defending their dreams and livelihood.

Creepshow Season 3 Skeletons in the Closet James Remar

Much like last week’s “Queen Bee” as well as “Dead and Breakfast” from the second season, the characters go to extremes when protecting someone or something they deeply care about. All fingers point to Lampini as the most fervent and irrational fan here, but he is not alone when sharing the blame in this bad situation. Meanwhile, Nicotero feels most at home in something like “Skeletons in the Closet”; the episode is all about the tangible side of horror. The memorabilia spotted all throughout adds an interactive element for viewers. Even though the homages to iconic scenes from The Shining and Psycho feel more tired than novel at this point, another cinematic reference is refreshing and endearing.

In Joe Lynch and Josh Malerman’s “Familiar”, a couple randomly visits a fortune-teller after partying. Their late-night, drunken detour is less entertaining than expected for Jackson (Andrew Bachelor), though. After meeting with the mysterious psychic, Boone (Keith Arthur Bolden), Jackson realizes he is being followed by a dark force that can only be physically removed, not exorcised.

Creepshow Familiar Andrew Bachelor Hannah Fierman

The second portion of the episode is more severe without any of the intentional humor of the first, and with the exception of the eponymous creature that acts more like a peripheral daymare than a direct threat, there is less emphasis on external horrors. The perceived dread largely comes from Joshua’s head and his evident desperation to be rid of the malevolent entity attached to him. Lynch and Malerman pull from the original Creepshow movie when executing the conclusion, but where they diverge is their conclusions. Notwithstanding the fact that the series has its fair share of unanswered endings, the one in “Familiar” is brewed more effectively and closer in tone to something in Tales from the Darkside. The acting is also a step up in general; Bachelor convincingly plays an earnest, terrified character after his comedic role in The Babysitter and its sequel, and Hannah Fierman continues to be a versatile actor who can easily flip the switch from cheerful to chilling.

The quality of this installment is far less lopsided than the one before it. On top of that, there is something for everyone here; “Skeletons in the Closet” wears its horror references on its sleeves, whereas “Familiar” marries personal terror with the supernatural.

New episodes of Creepshow Season 3 are released every Thursday on Shudder.

Creepshow Skeletons in the Closet