We conclude our look at the Season 3 highlights of “Creepshow” on Shudder, ending with a haunting standout of an outstanding season, “Mums”.
With Shudder’s Creepshow returning for a fourth season this Fall (likely in September), we continue our look into the craft and magic of Season Three — highlighting the season’s brightest moments.
The third season of Creepshow has a finite balance of telling pure horror fables while dipping into socially relevant issues of Meter Reader (pandemic), Mums (extremism), Queen Bee (fandom), and Drug Traffic (healthcare and immigration), illustrating our own emotional intelligence for review.
Mums is a brilliantly adapted short from Joe Hill’s 2019 Full Throttle, a collection of short stories. Directed by Rusty Cundieff, this “perilous parable” of extremism meets Mother Nature was the best story to kick off the season.
Jack (Brayden Benson), a young man of innocence, feeds the farm pigs while glancing over to his disgruntled and anxious father, Hank (Ethan Embry), loading riffles into the back of the truck.
At breakfast, his mother, Bloom (Erin Beute), a naturist, lets him know that his Great, Great, Great MeeMaws (Southern Grandmother) will turn one hundred and wants to take Jack to Minnesota to meet her. Concerned, Jack worries about leaving Hank, the farm, and the garden. Bloom reassures him, “Mother Earth has a way of taking care of her own kind.”
That assurance sets the underlying tone of what is to come.
Rushing out the door, Bloom is blocked on the porch by Hank, Connor (Lowrey Brown), and his wife, Beth (Malone Thomas).
In a heated struggle, her suitcase opens to expose a bottle of whisky and saved cash. Bloom insists that it was planted, and Hank, “the decorated Marine,” and Connor take her to the truck. Hank wants the local police to admit her for treatment for her alcoholic past and “history of mental illness,” while Beth consoles Jack.
Waking up in terror, Jack dreamt of Bloom in an eerie flash of her soiled and unearthed.
To cheer him up, Beth suggests that they plant the seeds his mother left behind.
She exclaims, “The fact you can plant anything, a seed, an idea, heck, you can even plant evidence.” Abruptly on that cue and both dirtied, Hank and Connor cautiously enter the kitchen. Hank assures Jack that his mother is in a halfway house and lectures the ramifications of her hidden addictions.
Later that night, Hank and Connor, the “American separatists”, map out a terrorist attack on the local ATF and IRS building. A copy of The Pale Horse’s Cookbook manifesto echoes the painful memories of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.
Under the gleaming full moon, the mum seeds miraculously grow overnight in majestic form. Missing his mother, Jack checks on the flourishing flowerbed. He clenches a flower in heartbreak, and blood drips from his hand onto the soil.
Sickened from witnessing great deception from his father and Beth, Jack bolts out the backdoor and hears distressed squealing. While rescuing a pig from entangling vines, much to his surprise, a motherly hand-like vine pulls him in further to suck the blood from his finger and reveal the demise of her death.
Sooner or later, fate comes to all, as Jack plays the hand of nature’s karma, luring everyone on the farm to the garden of destruction and rebirth.
It takes a legend to adapt another legend’s work without taking away the magic of the original story.
Leave that to the meticulous talents of mastered screenwriter David J. Schow (The Crow, The Hills Run Red) and cowriting showrunner Greg Nicotero. As Hill’s Mums is a forty-four-page story, not every element can translate all of Hank’s motives and Jack’s emotions into the twenty-five-minute slot.
The book, of course, gives more insight into MeeMaw’s presence. However, less was more in cutting down characters for this screen adaptation.
I’ve been a fan of Cundieff’s since 1995 when I watched Fear of a Black Hat, and the Tales From the Hood franchise demonstrated Cundieff’s versatility from the comedic to the dramatic.
Like Season Two’s episode, Sibling Rivalry, which Cundieff also directed, he knows how to play on relationships of deception. Through Jack’s discoveries, the viewer is unveiling more secrets of what’s really going on behind the scenes with each character.
The set design and atmosphere of Mums are just as I imagined the farm setting from the book to be when I visualized it. Lastly, Embry has a flawless gift for delivering dialog, bringing the troubled character of Hank to life.
Where extremism is temporary, Mother Nature’s natural flow to defend against man’s neurotic aggression to conceal, well, it leaves food for thought in Mums.
Mother Nature always wins; she essentially has the last word. What she grows can protect or scare us.
I love where Hill took us in his vision of Mums, and it takes a dream team of Cundieff, Schow, and Nicotero to bring that horror to life in Creepshow.
Despite Shudder and AMC parting ways, that doesn’t stop season four from debuting this spring. Even Shudder’s Creepshow: From Script to Scream — a detailed, behind-the-scenes hardcover book — launched in December with a grand execution from writer Dennis L Prince, foreword by Stephen King, and an afterword by Metallica’s Kirk Hammett.
Creepshow, the Television Series is fortunately here to stay!