Scream Queens: Haunted House – Too Campy?


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Perhaps some people are more easily impressed than others, for instance, this viewer found the entire episode of Scream Queens Haunted House worth watching just for the extended Matthew McConaughey impression by Diego Boneta while preparing to question the  former Kappa in the trailer. That scene, as well as Grace’s father revealing that the scary thing about Children of the Corn is your inner child killing you, made the show.

There were things that still worked about the series, although not as well as last week’s episode Chainsaw. The character of Denise Hemphill has worn out her welcome, with all the campy eye rolling and hand waving.  The whole Niecy Nash act is overkill and adds nothing to the show…

But…

The other thing that made Haunted House delightfully worth watching was the unison scene with Nash and Boneta in the “hag” scene.  Hemphill and Martinez both reveal things learned about the house where ZayDay will hold her “haunted house” fund raiser.

Both of these scenes show a sort of genius that “gets it.” There are a few other things in the episode that work brilliantly, the “discovery” of the obligatory multiple victims. Like any decent slasher film, bodies have to be found; laid out in a grisly display to scare the heck out of the movie’s protagonist.

Chad and Hester (Glen Powell and Lea Michele respectively) who are obsessed with dead bodies, Chad fantasizes about necrophilia, find the dearth of murdered students and the decomposing Ms Bean in the haunted house and they both freak out accordingly. 

In the local coffee shop, they sit, in shock, and then tell the students in the place to avoid the house because of the dead bodies. The news galvanizes the other customers who all rush over to see the house of corpses.

Later when ZayDay finds that her fund raiser does indeed have real dead bodies in it, she calls 911 and speaks to a dispatcher who sounds suspiciously like Walton Goggins (Django Unchained, Justified) and considering how good Boneta was at doing McConaughey it would to be surprising to  learn that  he also “did” Goggins for the call.

Perhaps the problem with this comedy horror treat is the inclusion of too much comedy. Murphy, Falchuk and Brennan have thrown in everything, including the kitchen sink, with enough gags in each episode that repeated viewings are needed to get all the jokes, references and sly (and not so sly) genre homages.  Viewing figures are dropping steadily each week.

This may be more because of audience tastes being…out-of-sync with the show’s creator’s vision. Rather oddly, Scream, the MTV “salute” to the Wes Craven classic franchise, which missed the mark on so many levels, earned a second season, while the fans who normally flock to any  Ryan Murphy project have been tuning out.

It does beggar belief that viewers aren’t getting this show, too much comedy seems to equal death. (Something that would blow Mel Brooks away as all his films have loads of gags in them.) How can one not appreciate the interaction between Grace (Skyler Samuels) and her dad where her father says:

Wes: “No you were born in a hospital. I was there. I saw you come out of your mother…big mistake, by the way…”

 

The episode this week, sees ZayDay get kidnapped and at the end of the episode the “woman in black” is sitting in  a rocking chair surrounded by damaged dolls, in the haunted house and it is former Kappa Gigi Caldwell (Nasim Pedrad) who is doing the wailing. 

It may help this series to have more Jamie Lee Curtis, Emma Roberts,  Diego Boneta and Oliver Hudson and a lot less Niecy Nash.  Regardless of whether Hemphill becomes the Red Devil’s next victim or not, the gags are numerous in this series and may be flying by the less conscious viewers. Is Scream Queens too camp for fans of comedy horror? 

As Bugs Bunny would say, “Mmmmm, could be.”

However it is most likely a case of too much on offer and this is confusing the target audience. It appears that  Murphy and co. may have aimed their latest offering more towards “Gleeks” who adore  that verse but who may be incapable of appreciating this one.

It has to be noted that the dining room scene with the obnoxious “frat” and his house brother whom the little group of Chanel’s attack is odd, yet funny.  Taking feminism to its most combative and extreme fells strangely satisfying yet disturbing on so many levels. Kudos chaps for putting this in, surrealistic comedy that works.

*Sidenote* The two films being watched, firstly by the trailer park gal (And how funny it this storyline? The implication being that if one leaves University sans degree, they become trailer park “trash.”) are “Leprechaun” and “Children of the Corn.” 

Scream Queens airs Tuesdays on ABC, if you love full tilt comedy that just happens to be set in the world of slasher films and all that entails, tune in, you will like it. Gleeks?  Maybe not so much…

Author: Mike's Film Talk

Former Actor, Former Writer, Former Journalist, USAF Veteran, http://MikesFilmTalk.com Former Member Nevada Film Critics Society

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