This week’s offering of Creepshow is the least conventional episode seen so far in the third season. It breaks the ice with “Time Out”, which is more pensive than usual for the series. Jeffrey F. January’s latest contribution, after directing “The Last Tsuburaya”, focuses on a pre-law student named Tim (Matthew Barnes) and the antique, carved armoire he inherits from his grandmother. Growing up, young Tim was told to stay away from the mysterious piece of furniture recovered from Germany during World War II. Now in his possession, he learns the secret of its power as well as the consequences.
Struggling to pass the bar and fulfill the dreams his father never achieved, Tim gets help from the family heirloom. As the segment’s title suggests, anyone who enters the armoire is given a respite from the real world; a short amount of time outside becomes hours and hours once inside. There are of course important rules to remember when using the armoire: always have the key on hand, and never get too greedy with time since “stolen hours are never free.” Tim eventually accomplishes his goals, but sadly that success comes at a great cost.
Barrington Smith and Paul Seetachitt’s story is a wistful one. There are no tangible monsters here, nor is there a character covering up a misdeed. The misguided Tim simply wants to honor his father, whose own time was cut short. This tale is not hard to connect to on an emotional level; everyone knows someone who worked themselves to death and was consequently deprived of life’s joys. “Time Out” is simple and direct, but it is also incredibly effective.
Greg Nicotero and Dave Newberg‘s “The Things In Oakwood’s Past” is a return to Creepshow’s traditional form of storytelling. In this animated segment, a librarian named Marnie (voiced by Danielle Harris) makes a startling discovery; she unearths a large box that could explain an enduring mystery in her hometown. People vanished all at once from Oakwood long ago for reasons unknown, and this artifact could be the answer to the question on everyone’s minds: where did they go?
If there is anything Creepshow is known for, it is the franchise’s love of damned boxes and self-references. At the start of “The Things In Oakwood’s Past” is a clear mention of the foreboding crate from the 1982 movie. And much like that box, there is an ignored air of danger surrounding the time capsule found in Oakwood. Although, anyone might overlook the red flags if they enjoy a good mystery in the vein of Roanoke Colony.
The downside of this brisk and gruesome episode is the inconsistency in the art and animation. There are times where the episode is downright crude in appearance; mainly the characters look stiff and inelegant, whereas the scenery is more sightly. Thankfully, the quality picks up as the story approaches its grisly finish.
“Time Out” and “The Things In Oakwood’s Past” hit their targets better than other segments have this season. The former waxes on about the risk of not living in the now and not appreciating the little time people have on this planet. Meanwhile, the latter is another visceral reminder of how some things should remain in the past.
New episodes of Creepshow Season 3 are released every Thursday on Shudder.