|All photos courtesy of IFC|
Episode 1: Dig Me Up, Dig Me Down
“Anybody ever tell you you look like a barrel of assholes?” Boy, does the dialogue in this show really know its way to a horror fan’s heart. Meet Stan Miller (John C. McGinley, of Scrubs fame), newly ousted Sheriff of Willard’s Mill, New Hampshire.
|Dr. Cox: Demon Slayer|
|Just look at that mouthy mouth.|
The undead element of Willard’s Mill has caught on to the fact that the town’s protector has died, and the craggly old haint of a witch that’s featured in this first episode wastes no time wreaking Raimi-esque havoc all over town. It doesn’t take Stan and Evie long to catch wise, and soon they’re chopping into her skull with an axe and reciting incantations to banish her from our realm forever. Evie reminds Stan that there are still 171 more undead demonic spirits to contend with, but for now, they walk happily into the foggy moonlight.
Episode 2: Know, Know, Know Your Goat
|Wouldst thou like to live deliciously, Stan?|
Flash forward to present day, where Evie is attempting to establish herself as a Sheriff the town will respect and obey. The town crazy, Raymond Taft, is keen on warning passersby of the coming of “The Beast,” and ignores Evie’s pleas that he stop shouting about demons and disturbing the peace. Evie quickly realizes that, given the town’s history with actual witches and demons, she should probably listen to what Raymond has to say, and she follows the scent back to his filthy abode to get more information. Meanwhile, Stan’s kooky daughter Denise (Deborah Baker Jr.) heads off to pick blueberries and makes a goat-friend in the woods (ruh-roh).
|I definitely won't turn into a demon and try to murder your whole family.|
What Deserves the Evil Eye
There’s not a lot that’s wildly unique in SAE, and it’s easy to point out the similarities to Starz’s Ash vs Evil Dead. It’s not as bloody and certainly not as violent, but there’s enough black bile vomit, beheading, and light flaying to satisfy the seasoned horror fan.
The show is smart to utilize McGinley’s signature brand of fast-talking snarkiness, but the first episode tends to overstay its welcome with the verbose tangents, losing the thread a little. Thankfully, episode two strikes a better balance. And, beyond a couple of moments in the first episode, there isn’t much honor paid to the fact that Stan’s wife has just died, which does a real disservice to the deep feelings we need to have for these characters.
What’s Dead On
John C. McGinley does a lot to establish a blowhard-older-guy-with-an-axe-to-grind character that feels more like the kind of crass New England cop from a Stephen King novel than anything else in recent memory, which is so much fun. Dana Gould’s dialogue is delightful, and the show transitions nicely between a spooky, timeless fall feeling and the 21st century absurdity of characters arguing about the accuracy of a Jaws analogy to their situation of being besieged by a goat demon. The music is simple and often so tinkly and silly at times that it feels like a cross between early X-Files and Goosebumps scores (which is a very good thing).
There are hints that, despite his abrasive nature, the town of Willard’s Mill has a deep affection for Stan, their recently booted Sheriff. My sincere hope is that, as the first season unfolds, it does a better job of giving us even more heart to hold onto.
Kat W's rating: 140 out of 172 accursed town demons
Stan Against Evil premiered on IFC on Halloween and airs Wednesdays at 10pm
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