J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Thursday, September 05, 2019

Two Sentence Horror Stories: Only Child


It is probably impossible to make straight-up voodoo horror films, like The Believers or The Serpent and the Rainbow these days, because of increased sensitivity concerns (Santeria is a religion, after all). However, it seems it can still be used to ward off evil spirits. Unfortunately, a Haitian grandmother might not be strong enough to expel the evil from her spoiled-rotten grandson in Only Child, the latest episode of Two Sentence Horror Stories, which premieres tonight on the CW.

Desi has just moved in with her grown son, his wife, and their little boy Rex. Granted, everyone will need time to adjust to the situation, but Rex still seems a little off. He definitely has boundary issues and he clearly expects to have his own way in all things. This could be partly attributable to his parents’ self-esteem-over-discipline approach to child-rearing. They earnestly tell Desi they try not to use the “no” word with him. Yet, there is still an element of hostility in his behavior that his parents refuse to see.

Of course, Desi can recognize bad spirits when she is in the presence of one, but Rex’s parents are way too modern for that kind of mumbo jumbo. That generational and cultural divide will put Desi in a rather perilous position. Yes, there is definitely talk of the “evil eye” in Only Child, but it still scrupulously maintains its cultural sensitivities. That is all well and good, but the important thing is the creepy tone director Nikyatu Jusu achieves.

As Rex, Jaiden Smith is one heck of a sinister bad seed-demon spawn. This kid would truly be a play date from Hell. Likewise, Sharon Hope portrays Desi as quite a credible and identifiable figure reacting incredulously to her son’s Summerhill-style parenting and with horror to Rex’s escalating aggression.

Screenwriter Leon Hendrix uses the horror genre to effectively satirize the discipline-free style of parenting, but that also provides a believable context for Rex’s evil blossoming. At some point, somebody should have said “no” to this kid, but nobody did. Arguably, this is definitely one of the best written instalments of the current season of Two Sentence Horror Stories. Highly recommended for horror fans, Only Child premieres tonight (9/5), on the CW.

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