Season 2! I didn’t even realize I had made it this far until Netflix told me so. Milestones! Anyway I have no memory whatsoever of this episode which leads me to believe that during the show’s original airing I never made it past season 1. That could definitely make it more interesting going forward as I won’t have any pre-conceived notions of what I should expect from episode to episode. Though I’ve heard the show started to go downhill in subsequent seasons and considering how weak I found season 1, this idea completely boggles my mind.
Wait headless ghost? This is just going to be the story of Sleepy Hollow isn’t it? God damn it. Well here we go I guess.
We open with blatant stock footage of a lighthouse which I believe is going to set the appropriate standard for everything going forward. After that the camera pans across the front of a house and they must have been really proud of this same panning shot because they then proceed to repeat it three times in rapid succession. I thought Netflix was glitching up on me but no, it was an intentional and baffling stylistic choice. Ok seriously is this jittery editing going to be prevalent the whole time? It makes everything look like a shitty slideshow. No shot is lasting more than a second before we cut to the next thing. It’s terrible. Stop this!
Oh god this one is going to be a slog. So we’re in the past I guess and this Andrew kid is searching around for presumably a ghost. His Mom comes in and tells him fuck you, there aren’t ghosts, go to bed. Oooo but Mom is way wrong and just a few moments later the “ghost” appears. I use the quotation marks because the ghost is actually a poorly rendered CGI blob of nothing. It looks like something out of Reboot. The ghost then turns into a silhouette that I swear looks EXACTLY like Beaker from The Muppets which immediately makes it impossible to find him a threat.
For the record, my favourite part of this entire sequence is when Andrew hears what is clearly a cat meowing beneath the bed but still hesitantly checks only to discover that yes, that meowing was indeed his cat. I think maybe it was meant to be a jump scare but when the cat is sitting there motionless it doesn’t really work.
Anyway it turns out this all was just a story being told by the leader of a ghost tour who is rockin’ some sweet mutton chops. The story does conclude with the ghost ripping off Andrew’s head and hiding it somewhere in the house which I admit is pretty gnarly. Suddenly a clearly fake arm reaches out from below the table and grabs one of the kids on the tour which immediately made me give a lot of credit to the tour because man that is commitment. Turns out though it wasn’t part of the official tour and the guide gets angry at the kids for making his tour more effective.
So I guess these guys are our heroes, Dwayne and …Girl. I don’t think they’ve said her actual name yet. I’ve started noticing that the kid actors in this show are terrible at pretending to laugh. It’s one step away from being a straight up “ha ha ha ha I am laughing” delivery. So I guess these two call themselves The Twin Terrors and they run around scaring little kids. Wow, our heroes are assholes. They plan to come back the next night and sneak away from the tour to look around for the headless ghost. Then we get lots of the standard “What are you scared? You’re scared aren’t you?” dialogue that seems to make up 80% of every episode of this show.
The next night at the tour we spend a whole lot of time listening to the guide actually give the tour. I admit he is selling the material pretty well but the tour itself sure doesn’t look very scary. It’s a brightly lit house with a group of people around. There’s no atmosphere at all. Hopefully these people didn’t spend too much on the tickets. The twins successfully sneak off which shows this is the most inattentive tour guide in history. There were like 6 people in the group, you didn’t notice that two are missing? You sir are a lawsuit waiting to happen.
They explore the house for a while in what starts to feel like live action Scooby Doo, complete with mysterious paintings and everything. They sneak into a room that’s off limits and find a bunch of shark jaws and such. We then get a sequence that once again goes on far too long as the sister (who it turns out is named Stephanie and seems to be just the worst person) starts looking around for the head as Dwayne stands in the corner looking terrified. She then reacts frightened to something off camera to psyche out Dwayne not once, but twice! Come on guys you only get 20 minutes to tell your story, let’s get on with it.
Right after that they hear somebody coming towards the room so they duck into the closet to hide. Then begins another drawn out sequence as we wait for this person to very slowly work their way to the room they are in. They then open the closet door and oooooooooooooo shit! It’s just the tour guide. Wah waaaaah. All that for nothing. It actually reminded me of how misleading some of the chapter transitions were in the actual Goosebumps books. “And then a hand came out of the ground and snapped my leg in half”. New chapter. “Oh wait, it was just the dog’s tail and my leg is fine. Cool.”
The tour guide throws them out and bans them there for life, something they seem upset about but come on did they really not see that one coming? Seems very justified. Immediately they run into a pale dude in old timey clothes named Seth who asks them if they want to see some real ghosts. Yeah this dude seems on the up and up, absolutely. Seth tells them that they need to sneak in after the tours are over in order to see the real shit. Seth says they should sneak back in that night and Stephanie being a fucking idiot is way into the idea. I mean I’m sure there is absolutely no way this Seth character is going to turn out to be a ghost. Nope, no way.
I think 20% of the run time of this episode so far has been comprised of establishing shots of this friggin’ house.
So that night they all sneak in and start poking around which of course leads to another sequence of people looking around at stuff and not much happening. When they find a dumb waiter, Seth launches into a story about a young kid who used to live there that I’m sure is absolutely not him. Nope, because there is no way this dude is a secret ghost. He just seems so normal and legit. Anyway the kid in the story ate ice cream all the time and the dumb waiter was used to send it to him. Then one day he fell down the dumb waiter and died. The end! Though I will give credit to the final line about how the kid’s face was so fucked up and mangled that you couldn’t tell it apart from the strawberry ice cream. That’s some good grisly shit Goosebumps, you need a lot more of that sort of stuff!
Stephanie though says fuck your story; show me some real ghosts damn it! Seth takes them upstairs to the Captain’s secret room. I guess I missed the back story about the captain but it’s too late, not rewinding. We continue forward! Once they get to the room, Seth locks the door behind them and tells them they can never leave. What?! This dude is a bad guy! Oooooooo man! What a surprising turn of events. So yeah Seth is Andrew and he says the reason he has a head is because he borrowed it and now he is gonna get him some of that Dwayne head. Wait you know what? This fucker is lying isn’t he? He’s not a ghost, he’s just an asshole. Or he’s lying and he is still that ice cream kid because otherwise why even tell that story? Let’s see! Lots of threats about how he’s going to take Dwayne’s head which are actually quite funny. I don’t think there’s a threatening way for this kid to say “I’m gonna take your head Dwayne” but kudos to him he certainly keeps on trying to make it work. I will say I legitimately enjoyed Dwayne’s attempts to logically explain why his head is bad because it has allergies, bad hair, etc. That was pretty good right there.
They make a move to escape in the dumb waiter and holy shit there’s an actual ghost head in there! The effect isn’t very good but I admit that I didn’t expect that. Nobody reacts appropriately to this development, which is to say none of them immediately start crying and urinating. If anything Dwayne is just relieved because if they found the original head then that means he gets to keep his. It turns out though that Seth is indeed full of shit as Andrew’s ghost body shows up to reclaim his head. Wait…you’re telling me that after something like 100 years of searching the house for his head, he never looked in the fucking dumb waiter?! Seriously?! It’s not like the head was stuck in the shaft or anything, it was right there as soon as you opened the door! His ghost body wasn’t even trying to look. Typical lazy child ghost body.
It turns out that Seth is a former employee of the house who just likes fucking with people. The tour guide tells Dwayne to go on ahead as he wants Stephanie to stay behind so he can have a word with her. They see no issues with this. I hate to say it but Stephanie is going to end up murdered before she turns 20. She has absolutely no qualms of going with strangers into any situation no matter how blatantly messed up it is. “Hey Stephanie. You don’t know me but will you join me in this back alley so I can kill….you with awesome presents and gifts?” “Ugh, what’s the matter Dwayne? You scared of sketch bags in dark alleys with hunting knives?” She never stood a chance.
The tour guide is a ghost by the way. The captain in fact. And yes Seth is in fact the kid who died in the dumb waiter, once again surprising nobody. Though it turns out Andrew knows all these people. The Captain starts painting Stephanie’s portrait which I know means something but I already forget the significance. I guess they plan to trap her there. Why are they just targeting her and not Dwayne as well? I don’t get it. Sexist assholes. Dwayne comes back and saves the day by….I’m honestly not sure what he did. He threw something on the painting which caused it to melt and disappear. They get chased by the captain ghost who keeps letting out the exact same scream on loop.
In the final scene, we see the tour guide, now disguised as a realtor, selling the home to a couple we’ve never seen before. He then looks directly into the camera which isn’t so much intimidating as it is silly, and we cut to the credits.
I have to admit, that one wasn’t bad. Yes many of the scenes went on too long and some of the plot twists were insanely easy to see coming, but there were some moments of true potential which is especially impressive considering the weak opening. The backstories for the various ghosts were appropriately grim and some of the humour genuinely worked. It didn’t all come together as a whole but the effort was there and I can appreciate that. Also they did away with the shitty jumpy editing pretty quickly and thank God for that. It actually gives me some hope going into this second season that maybe some of the kinks have been worked out and we’re in for some truly good stuff.