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Joe Lynch hits it out of the park with his segment “Meter Reader” from season 3 of Shudder’s Creepshow; one of the strongest in the series.

With Shudder’s Creepshow returning for a fourth season this Fall (likely in September), we take a deeper look into the craft and magic of Season Three — highlighting the season’s brightest moments.

In case you missed it, make sure you check out our review of Skeletons in the Closet, a standout of the season. Then read on to see why we are also huge fans of Joe Lynch’s outstanding season three entry, Meter Reader.

With four episodes to his name, Joe Lynch has proven to be a distinguished addition to Shudder’s popular anthology television series, Creepshow. Demonstrating his aptitude as a director for true storytelling, Meter Reader is a visually all-encompassing tale of family and self-endurance against the demonic tides of a hell-borne plague.

Against a blazing blood orange sky, a motorcyclist drives along desolate roads and abandoned towns. Graveyards align the countryside and the music cues like a western, nostalgic of Mad Max. The Department of Meter Readers garbage truck arrives for its daily morning pickup, as masked-up homeowners bring their garbage cans to the curb, and the attendant (Matt Skollar) shouts, “Bring out your heads!”

Stopping beside the truck, the motorcyclist, Dalton (Johnathon Schaech), is humanity’s last hope. A “Meter Reader”, like a minister, he specializes in exorcisms; a “chosen one” to sift out the inhabited.

Dalton is cautioned against traveling to Celestial Falls as “the devil” has taken over. The human decapitated heads of loved ones who succumbed to a demonic fate are incinerated.

Not your usual service for a garbage man, but that’s some Cronenberg Rabid love right there.

Dalton’s daughter, Theresa (Abigail Dolan), narrates through the comic book transition how the plague was globally unleashed from “the gates of hell.”

meter reader

Abigail Dolan as Theresa

In the dense fog of night, reminiscent of The Exorcist, Dalton stands at the bottom of a towering brick building, a haunting shot showing a character vulnerable within their large and unknown world.

Knocking on apartment 1408, (homage to Stephen King), he is taken to the room of a young girl, Mercy Jones (Reagan Higgins), bound to the bed by her mother (Samantha Worthen). Upon trying to detect her stage of possession with a green crystal scepter, he finds Mrs. Jones to be an unsettling spirit — just like her soup on the stove.

We feel the old-school horror impact of Dalton exorcising the mother and hear the intense overlay of demon slaying screams.

Back at home, Maria (Cynthia Evans) and her son, Michael (Boston Pierce), piece together a puzzle while Theresa surveillances the property from the window. Listening intently to a podcast on her laptop, the conversing arguments proclaim decapitation to preserve immortal souls, showing a loving retrospective to Dawn of the Dead. 

Mom and Michael view their world with denial while breaking fresh bread, vocalizing hopes of school and nail salons reopening soon.

Theresa is the rock of caution, reminding them of Celestial Fall’s alarming infection and the role of parent and teenager quickly reverse.

With her glass-shattering objections to Theresa’s instincts, Maria argues Dalton’s immunity with blood on her hands.


Dalton arrives past the 72-hour infection protocol for monitoring, and Theresa orders him to wait out the night in the cellar against the pleas of Maria and Michael.

Theresa recounts the painful experience of her younger sister Madeline becoming infected. Maria and Dalton implement the inevitable as Theresa consoles Mikey.

Fast forward to the family embracing on the porch as Dalton leaves for his mission, prompting Theresa to say, “Trust no one, not even me!”

Dreaming of her father possessed in the kitchen (breathtaking makeup), Theresa awakens to find Maria preparing dinner for Dalton. As she begs Maria against it, Michael moves at an unearthed speed to the cellar, wearing a devil mask.  Maria knocks out Theresa in an attempt to protect the family below.

When she comes to, Theresa slowly heads down the cellar stairs to find Dalton wounded. He reminds her, “The devil is the master of lies.”

Theresa is forced to confront her “family’s darkest hour”.

And like father, like daughter, the scepter and role of Meter Reader is handed over.

Lynch is just as much the cinematographer’s director, as he is the actor’s director in equal measure. 

Meter Reader

Joe Lynch, John Esposito, Abigail Dolan, and Johnathon Schaech on the set of “Meter Reader”

After watching him craft his magic on Creepshow these past two years, I also realize I can’t define his style any more, and that is a gift.

With Everly and Mayhem, I saw a director that fully allowed his cinematographer and actors to own their exploration; a filmmaker who leads than controls.

Watching Meter Reader, he still harnesses that collaborative nature, and I can’t compare that creative mold to The Right Snuff, Pipe Screams, or Familiar. Lynch’s self-awareness and passion as a director is a driving force, as he works from an extensive palette of films. His modality is not limited, maybe within budgets and time constraints, but never in vision.

Cinematographer, Robert Draper, really pushed the boundaries of illumination in Meter Reader, as the lighting is a character all its own. The framing of Theresa looking out the window at dawn is stunning. If you took all the dialog away leading up to that shot, that visual moment alone speaks on behalf of her predicaments.

Dolan’s performance as Theresa also brings a memorable and strong new talent to the camera.

Like Skeletons in the Closet, writer, John Esposito, executes a powerful foreshadowing through the dialog and cleverly plays on the isolation of characters navigating survival within their doomed world. He illustrated what 2020 felt like, as we’re still observing “humanity on trial” today.

I think Meter Reader tops the charts within the whole anthology series, stylistically, and with superb narrative. In fact, Meter Reader is the kind of anthology short that feature films should be made of.

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