Hell is what you make it (301)
It’s October 31st, and in the spirit of the holiday (because it is one to me, excuse you), IFC’s Stan Against Evil is back with its season 3 premier–and not just one episode, but two back to back! This show continues to be a quirky fun horror comedy that can still bring in some unexpectedly poignant moments.
We pick up immediately where we left off last season, with Evie and Stan having to face a literal Hell on Earth, as Claire (Stan’s wife) didn’t get to destroy the last demon flower. So…yeah. Things aren’t looking great, especially since the portal back to the past (because if the past messed this all up, going back again could fix it, right?) has been destroyed.
In typical fashion, at the first moment of difficulty, Stan wants to just live in the current situation instead of trying to do the difficult work of making things better–and Evie wants to push on towards closing the Hell portal. It gets complicated, though, when Stan goes off to answer the ‘call of nature’ and Evie is ambushed by a corpse (played by our favorite creature actor Mick Ignis!). Of course Evie dispatches the corpse in quick order but…it’s Stan? Good ole Leon shows up to arrest Evie for Stan’s murder, and it’s quite clear that something weird is going on–though not with Leon: he’s still as dumb as always.
We find that Evie hasn’t been taken to jail, but to a ‘non-sexy’ hospital (you know, not the kind with Grey’s Anatomy doctors)-yep, she’s in the psych ward. Given she’s been screaming about demons, it isn’t that much of a surprise. The comedy is great in this scene–the dry wit of the psychiatric doctor perfectly fits someone who has seen too much, and is clearly not getting paid enough for his job.
The thing is–Evie isn’t crazy. Down in the morgue, Stan is visited by Gerard Duquette, who announces that to everyone he looks like the corpse–meaning no one is going to listen to him. Basically, each of them is in their own personal hell, and the only way to fix things is to, “turn away from everything you are.” As usual, Stan is still making jokes and facing down this news with the typical aplomb and bluster that he projects to protect himself–but is more than ready to go and try to save Evie…who he totally knew was in the nuthouse.
Of course, this can’t go to plan because Stan looks like a demon…but it does result in Evie breaking herself out? So at least there’s that. A bit distraught over not being able to nag anyone, Stan wanders about the woods, listening to Duquette nag at him instead–who is trying to give him some good (if possibly dangerous) advice: to defeat evil, find a bigger evil, and let a little in. Sounds like fun Saturday night, if you ask me.
That leads to a convergence on Stan’s house, as Stan, Evie, and a very freaked out Denise end up inside the old study. Evie manages to sort out that Stan is the corpse, and in a fit of desperation, decides the best way out of their Hells is to kill each other–it happens quickly, and it works, setting everything back to normal.
This is where I quibble with the episode. I generally felt this was a strong first outing, but the ending seemed a bit lackluster, as if they weren’t quite sure how to end it. I can easily believe that Evie has a strong enough connection to Stan to sort out that it’s him, but I’m just not sure how the idea to kill each other came into her mind–or that it would work at all.
The episode is still fun, and paired with the second, make for a great episode of television. I just wish it hadn’t ended with a ‘klunk’.
The Hex Files (302)
Now this episode, while giving us a bit more information to what will most likely be our overarching plot, was a ton of fun. It played like a wacky version of The X-Files, complete with two investigators (one ready to believe everything, one skeptical), the paranormal, and some interesting twists and turns along the way.
We start this episode with another meeting of the Black Hat Society–those lovely weird witches from last season. Things don’t go very well for them, again, as all but one of them are incinerated by an unseen force. The only one to escape was late due to daylight savings time….and craving a butter chicken.
While Evie is investigating, two investigators from the New Hampshire State Bureau of Paranormal Phenomenon (NHBPP) show up: Fleming and Nesbit. They are dead ringers for Mulder and Scully, down to the creepy theme song that seems to follow them about. The actors (Chris Dougherty, and Valerie Tosi, respectively) do an amazing job playing their parts completely straight, as if they stepped out of an entirely different tv show. They tell a ton of stories about all the different conspiracy theories they’ve confirmed, and despite Evie and Stan’s skepticism of them initially, it seems the agents start to grow on them.
Stan is still trying to find a bigger evil, which is connected directly to the episode’s plot, as the last member of the Black Hat Society, Judy, is trying to find the same thing–some dude named Horace (aka Horus, Egyptian God).
Of course, nothing is going to go as planned, as it seems Judy is murdered before she can finish the ritual–or is she? Apparently Horace needs a human body to inhabit, and it will happen at the stroke of midnight. I like that the crew isn’t necessarily trying to stop her, but to sort out what is going on–after all, Stan really needs this, right?
The first sign of real trouble is when the ghost of Judy tells Stan to get rid of the agents. But why would we want to get rid of lovely Fleming and Nesbit? Well, Evie figures it out…they were two of the old witches, burned at the stake. Yeah, guess NHBPP isn’t real after all (sad trombone)!
While Evie manages to protect her and Stan from the spells with a salt circle, Nesbit points out correctly that salt can’t save them from guns. Oops. However, they are saved by Horace, a terrifying looking creature, and again–daylight savings time!
Seriously, I never thought ‘daylight savings time’ would be a plot in any horror show/movie, but here we are, and I love it.
Unlike the ending for the last episode, I found The Hex Files ending a great deal stronger. Everything led up to it naturally, and the twist at the end, with both agents being witches, was a satisfying one. For a two-part debut on Halloween, I think Stan Against Evil made a fine showing of their season 3 premiere, and I can’t wait to see where they go next.