Last week’s Creepshow went below a run down apartment and into the bowels of Earth. This week in the Season 2 finale, we’re diving from the real world and into the universe of virtual reality cinema! And how you can get easily lost there.
Night of the Living Late Show follows Simon (Justin Long, Tusk) an introverted scientist who has made one of the biggest breakthroughs in media technology: a fully immersive virtual reality tank! Using it to literally jump into his favorite movie, the 1972 sci-fi monster movie classic, Horror Express starring Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. But with each deep dive into the movie, his wife Renee (D’Arcy Carde, The Good Place) grows more and more concerned, especially as Simon tries to live out his infatuation with the fictional Countess Petrovska (Hannah Fierman, V/H/S) and tensions continue to mount…
A splendidly unique concept for a special full length 40 minute Creepshow tale directed by series showrunner Greg Nicotero and written by Stan Against Evil creator Dana Gould who also starred in last season’s Skincrawlers. With the wonders of editing/special fx technology, characters from the Creepshow story are able to jump into Horror Express and interact with the world within their world. Including scenes of Justin Long’s Simon geeking out in the presence of Christopher Lee- as I think we all would given the situation. These cuts are relatively seamless or just kind of fit with the flow of a virtual reality program version of Horror Express with other segments involving recreated sets from the train and Hannah Fierman’s Countess being the only character who goes fully ‘off-script.’ My only real gripe would be that Telly Savalas’ larger than life cossack commander didn’t get to make an appearance. Also leading to a fun segment in Night of the Living Dead…
At its core however, Night of the Living Late Show is a human drama instead of technology gone awry. The virtual reality unit works perfectly fine, it is the whims of the creator that cause misfortune. Simon and Renee’s marriage was already clearly strained, and his obsessive escapism only exacerbates their relationship. In a way, it makes me recall the classic Twilight Zone episode ‘Time Enough At Last’ with Burgess Meredith.
In it, Meredith plays a milquetoast man who lets his obsession with reading push aside his co-workers, his wife, and everyone else around him until he’s left alone with just his library in the wake of a nuclear war… then his glasses break. There was an interview with host Rod Serling about why someone as meek as Meredith’s character deserved such a twisted fate, which boiled down to his lack of humanism and obsessive escapism. He wasn’t a cruel man, but his fantasies isolated himself and pushed others away. I feel similar about Simon. He’s not an outright villain, but his negative and anti-humanist character flaws are what rightfully lead him to his Creepshow inspired destination.
And excellent performances all around! Justin Long as the horror nerd living out his virtual dreams with tunnel vision that excludes his wife but are focused on the fictional countess. As well D’Arcy Carde as Renee shines as the straight woman to Simon’s holodeck hijinks. Growing more disturbed before uncovering his fantasy infidelity, coming to blows with Hannah Fierman’s alluring Russian Countess and having a close encounter with The Horror of The Horror Express, becoming bitter over his neglectful treatment..
Overall, this was a truly fun high concept story to end this season of Creepshow on and just makes me more and more excites for all the possibilities the announced Season 3 has in store!