Uhhhh, I don’t know what to make of this one, really. And that includes the most basic assessment, as in, I’m not sure if I even liked this one or not. One of the examples of that is my immediate reaction post-episode.
My first reaction to an episode is very basic, usually just something like “Yuck.” Or maybe “Aw.” As simple as those reactions are, though, they often serve as the peg upon which I build my review. It’s a mite bit more difficult, as you might imagine, when my first response is something like “Huh,” as with this episode.
For one thing, it’s somewhat of an oddity, tonally speaking. There are horror elements to this episode, but I’m not certain that makes it a horror story. I guess we should talk about that story, though, and maybe we’ll figure it out together. As you might guess from the title, this is a little tale about the dead. Specifically, it’s about Sam (Madison Iseman), a young woman who feels most comfortable among the unalive.
She works at a funeral home, preparing bodies for viewing. While some folks might find this work unsettling, I think we can all agree that it’s a valuable service. Funerals are for the living, after all. Part of the experience is the closure that comes from saying goodbye. That’s a lot easier, obviously, when the decedent looks as much like we remember as possible. People like Sam make that so.
But it isn’t just the satisfaction of doing a hard job well that draws Sam. She had a traumatic experience early in life, as her mother was murdered in their home. Sam, barely a toddler, was left alone with her body for days. It seems like an understatement to call this a distressing event, but there was also a comfort to it. Sam was too young to understand what had happened, so in her little baby mind, she was just spending time with mom.
Sam doesn’t say this outright. In fact, I don’t think she’s even given it much conscious thought. Deep down, she senses that people will find it weird or even off-putting. These people, by the way, include not only her friends, but also her boyfriend Jesse (Spencer Neville). She thinks he doesn’t like her work. Again, this doesn’t seem to be something he’s actually said, but more something she’s sensed.
It’s not a bad life, but it’s probably not an authentic one, either. And Sam would have kept on going with it, never really feeling like she fit in, if it weren’t for new gravedigger Charlie (Cameron Cowperthwaite). You can see why a guy like Charlie would catch a woman’s eye. He kind of looks like Outlander heartthrob Sam Heughan, if you’re into that sort of thing. (Look, he’s not my cup of tea. I listen to a lot of Taylor Swift for a gal who’s never loved a blond man. Or even a dirty blond man. But I can understand the appeal.)
He’s got a tragic backstory. He treats the dead with respect, thanking them for allowing him to escort them on their final journeys. Obviously, this is Sam’s dream man. But she’s conflicted. For one thing, she’s still very much in a relationship with normie Jesse. who soon proposes. Then Charlie takes it too far.
One day, Sam begins work, only to find that her first subject is Charlie, apparently dead of an overdose. She’s distraught, as anyone would be after losing someone with whom they’d felt a real connection. Then things get weird. And by “weird,” I mean uncomfortable. Sam full-on mounts the corpse and necrophiles all over it. But uh, there’s a catch.
Charlie ain’t dead. Apparently, he’d arranged this little encounter with a little help from some mysterious pill he bought off the internet. Like the stuff Juliet drinks (in uh, Romeo and Juliet), it gives the appearance of death. He also had a friend apply some prosthetics to make it look like someone had performed an autopsy on him.
I’m not sure what he thought would happen here, but it definitely wasn’t that. The experience mortifies–pun intended–Sam, who is also furious with Charlie. On a basic level, this is a storyline about someone forcing someone else to confront their hidden inner self. On a bigger level, gross.
Charlie, a real edgelord, isn’t content with just whatever this is. He also hijacks Sam and Jesse’s wedding in a grand romantic gesture. Except, instead of showing up and objecting like a mammal, he interrupts Jesse’s romantic slideshow with a clip of that nonsense in the mortuary preparation room. Ladies, he’s a 10, but he disrupts your wedding/ruins your life by making everyone think you’re a corpse-effing sex offender.
This all ultimately culminates in an ending that should make the audience feel something. Beauty and horror and life and death and love and everything pushing toward a release. Instead, though, it’s just dead on arrival.
6/10 – I feel like there’s a good story in here, but it just didn’t come to fruition. The chemistry between Sam and Charlie is never as electrifying as it should be, especially for the way their story ends. In addition, visually, the episode is not quite as exciting as it could be. There’s a lot of “not quite” here, in fact, which overall just speaks to an episode that didn’t meet its potential.