Creepshow: “The Hat” And “Grieving Process” (S4E2)

With Creepshow Season 4 off to a strong start, I’m in a good headspace for what’s to come. Episode 2 brings us two more spooky stories. One is about a writer who just needs to find inspiration to become the next Stephen King Bachman, and another tale shows us just how difficult the grieving process can be. Are you prepared? You’re in for a scare!

“The Hat”

Written by Byron Willinger and Phillip DeBlasi // Directed by Kailey Spear and Sam Spear

Jay sits in front of his computer, wearing his lucky hat
Creepshow Season 4, Official Trailer, YouTube, 00:23

We meet Jay (Ryan Beil), who currently holds a gun to his head. His partner Astrid (Sara Canning) doesn’t seem too amused at the *unloaded* gun Jay holds to his head. This act-out is a direct result of a writing deadline Jay is sure to miss. We’ve all been there, pal. Jay tells Astrid that acclaimed horror author Stephen Bachman (David Beairsto) has NEVER missed a deadline. Astrid tells Jay that things aren’t going too well for her either, as she was recently passed over for a lead architect role at her firm. Do architects have firms? Or is it a practice?

Jay goes to see his manager Nicole (Marlee Walchuck) with the hope of getting some words of wisdom. I hope you took your Dramamine because there is an extreme Dutch angle that made me tilt my head at a 45-degree angle. Nicole tells Jay he needs his version of a lucky rabbit’s foot, something that he can physicalize his inspiration with. In Nichole’s office are a few of the good luck charms other famous writers had like Ray Bradbury’s typewriter, Richard Matheson’s pipe, and, gulp, H.P. Lovecraft’s Civil War bullet? Okay, look. We all know H.P. was pretty damn racist so the idea of him having a Civil War bullet is kind of weird, right? We aren’t told if it’s from the North or the South, but it’s pretty easy to presume he has a Southerner’s bullet, something that would have been shot at the North. I did a bit of research and couldn’t really find anything regarding if H.P. had a Civil War bullet, it’s just an odd thing to add.

Nicole steps out for a minute leaving Jay to ogle at the lucky charms these famous authors used to have. That’s when he sees a hat in a glass box that says, plainly, “DO NOT OPEN.” So he opens it. It turns out is the hat worn by Stephen Bachman. When Jay asks why Nicole has the hat, she reveals that Stephen decided to walk away from writing for good and gave her the hat for safekeeping. For some reason, Nicole decides to give Jay the homburg, which he accepts with exuberance. Later that day Astrid comes home to find Jay wearing his new hat, and she’s surprisingly still attracted to him. It’s 2023, can we agree that fedoras don’t work? Astrid gets an idea and tells Jay to wait for her, and she runs off. Moments later Astrid comes back with a pillbox hat so they can take some cute photos together. It’s a really nice moment, a nice moment that won’t happen again for the rest of the segment.

It’s time for Jay to see if this hat actually helps or not. He sits down at his computer with the hat on. Two hours go by. Another 94 minutes go by. Jay could have watched the extended cut of Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring in the time he spent staring at a blank screen. Then out of nowhere, his eyes go milky, momentarily. Back to normal eyes. Finally, WHAM his eyes go back to being milky and his fingers don’t stop typing. Page 25. Page 320. Le fin. Jay has written an entire novel in one night. It’s now morning. There’s an excellent match cut when Jay stares at the completed novel. He starts to say, “Jay Stratton you are a f***ing–” cut to Nicole’s office and she says, “Genius.” And just like that Jay’s career has begun.

Bidding wars quickly start for Jay’s novel. Nicole even hypes Jay up by saying Zendaya and Tom Holland will be canoodling at the premiere of his film. The main thing is that Jay needs to start working on a sequel because Nicole informs him that readers don’t want one-offs anymore. In fact, that’s quite the opposite. I don’t know about you but I’m sick and tired of extended universes, retconned prequels (not you, Saw), and how every damn franchise now has to have eight different television series on characters who are barely part of a film. It’s enough! When Jay seems a bit wary about writing a sequel, Nicole starts to manipulate him by asking him, “Are you just like all the others?”

Jay falls for Nichole’s manipulation and gets to writing, while still wearing the hat. It’s now 4 A.M. and he is still up writing, while Astrid lays in bed, alone. Astrid gets up to look for Jay, only to find him locked in his office. Apparently, Jay has missed three whole days by not coming out of his office. This is when Astrid starts to think Jay likes the hat more than her, as he never takes it off. She even says that it feels like he’s entering one of his own novels. Which was the worst thing she could say because it gave him an idea for a novel.

Eventually, Jay puts the hat away. Immediately his head starts to itch, and as he goes to itch it he starts pulling out clumps of hair. Thinking that is a later problem, Jay sits back down at his computer but something is off. He can’t log into his computer… the password has been changed. Thinking, for some reason, the hat might have something to do with it, Jay goes looking for the hat. Only, it’s not in the closet where he left it. Jay sits back down at his computer and is eventually able to log back in, only once he’s in he can’t find the words to write. It’s clear that he cannot write without the hat.

Astrid gets Jay out of his writer’s dungeon for dinner, his birthday dinner! There is a whole spread, including some delicious-looking lobster. Jay quickly devours the lobster. Astrid tells Jay that he looks awful and desperately needs a shower. But that’s silly, Jay says, because then his hat would get wet. They go back and forth a little bit and end the argument with Jay saying the hat stays on until he finishes his epic. Astrid has had enough and leaves. Shortly after Astrid leaves, Jay gets a call from May Johnson (Kelly Metzger) on behalf of Stephen Bachman. Not wanting to miss an opportunity to talk with the author who has influenced him more than anyone, Jay agrees.

Jay ends up meeting May and Stephen at, no lie, Bachman Square. We see May wheeling Stephen around, as he is confined to a wheelchair now. Stephen has a patchy head of hair, his face is covered in scars, and he is unable to speak. Could this have something to do with the hat? Yes. It turns out Nicole stole Bachman’s hat, and he just wants it back. Stephen has rightly assumed the burgeoning horror author, with no output beforehand, who is also managed by his former manager, probably has the hat. Jay refuses and is scolded when Stephen writes, and May reads out, “You are nothing more than a second-rate hack, unworthy of dime store greeting cards.” DAMN.

Once Jay gets back home, he removes all of Bachman’s books from his shelf and replaces them with his own. He then goes on a stylishly fun writing rampage. A call from Nicole reveals an offer from Steven Spielberg. A call from Astrid reveals that she landed the Oppenheimer account. Suddenly Jay starts bleeding from his nose. Realizing the negative effects of the hat, Jay tries taking it off, only it won’t come off. This leads Jay to pry the hat off with a knife, cutting up his head quite badly. From inside the hat, a spider-like arm reveals itself before biting off one of his fingers. Jay grabs his (now loaded) gun and shoots the hat. Another grisly reveal shows us a tentacle arm/sucker has been attaching itself to Jay’s brain stem! Jay tries to put the hat back in the box, which is when he notices the hat’s box is full of hat babies!

Jay goes to Nicole’s to show her that he killed the creature, and even attacks Nicole with one of the hat babies. Presumably to apologize, Jay goes to Astrid’s new apartment. Inside he finds a beautifully crafted blueprint, maybe something better than she’s ever done before? That’s when Jay finds Astrid, working on another blueprint…and wearing her PILL BOX HAT!

The ending of “The Hat” is bittersweet in the best Creepshow way possible. There’s never going to be a happy ending. At most, we get an ambiguous ending like with “20 Minutes with Cassandra.” I’m sure this is a commentary on the power agents have over the people they represent, and with the recent WGA strike it’s very topical. If that’s the message, I think it was a little bit muddled, but this is an all-around fun segment. It’s basically just reference after reference, while still finding a way to feel original and not just relying on references to make it interesting. The creature introduction was completely out of left field and elevated my enjoyment to a whole new level. Ryan Biel’s performance is a bit over the top, and it almost doesn’t work. Just a little bit more *performance* would have taken his character to an incredibly annoying level, so I’m glad Biel kept his performance where he did.

Jay sits at his desk with his lucky hat on, this time the lights go out as a stage light illuminates only him
Creepshow Season 4, Official Trailer, YouTube, 00:24

“Grieving Process”

Written by Mike D. McCarthy and John Esposito // Directed by Kailey Spear and Sam Spear

Michelin star chef Richard (Sachin Sahel) cooks a gorgeous spread for his wife April (Rachel Drance). April is starting her first day in a new position, her younger sister Jean (Mae Mae Renfrow) refers to April as the “boss lady” so it’s presumably a boss position she is starting. While she eats, April and Richard insinuate that they’d like to start a family. April goes off to work, and it’s time for Richard to plan. By the evening he has a charcuterie board set up with some wine, and candles for atmosphere. Hours pass, but no April. Richard calls and texts April’s phone but there’s no response. Finally, a call comes in from April’s phone. A pit fills in Richard’s stomach when it’s not April’s voice, but a detective’s.

Detective Kiernan (Elfina Luk) calls Richard to tell him April has been attacked on the way to her car. We see the aftermath of the attack, April has a large gash in her neck and is covered in blood. For a few seconds, we linger on a bloody flower at the crime scene.

April is finally released from the hospital and brought back home, only she seems (rightfully) different. She hates being touched, again rightfully, and even pukes when she tries eating Richard’s food. Richard and Jean decide to give April some space. The two sit down to have a tall glass of whiskey. Jean tells Richard that her family usually runs from trouble, but they just want April to get better. Then Jean goes into some more detail about how she was attacked on the way home from class one day at Georgetown but April never gave up on her. Richard and Jean realize they both have to do what they can to help April recover in whichever way she sees fit.

The next day, Richard goes to check on April and finds the room is freezing cold and dark. April goes off on Jean, saying that the attack that happened to her in college just made her a freeloader and that she wants Jean out of the house. Jean then leaves. April cries in bed which slowly morphs into laughing. As Jean leaves she sees a little girl outside, we’ll find out her name is Daisy (Kingston Chan). Daisy has a bouquet of welcome home balloons, but she disappears when Jean does a double take.

Richard walks towards April's crime scene
Creepshow Season 4, Official Trailer, YouTube, 00:16

Days later, we see the stairs are lined with plates of uneaten food, and flies buzz around the rotting food. Doctor Spence (Rebecca Davis) comes over to the house to check on April. A forlorn Richard tells the doctor that the woman he fell in love with is no longer here. Doctor Spence goes upstairs to check on April, only to find her standing and bleeding from her head. From downstairs, Richard hears a thudding and quickly runs upstairs. Inside the room, April is feasting on Doctor Spence. While in the room April grabs Richard’s hand and just says, “Hungry.”

Richard moves Spence’s body down to the basement, and April follows, Ring-crawling her way down the basement stairs. Wanting to help his wife however possible, Richard tells April he’ll see what he can do with the leftovers of the corpse. Detective Kiernan calls Richard to ask how April is recovering, he tells the detective April is doing well. I guess that’s technically not a lie, now that he knows what she wants to eat. We get an interesting montage of Richard going around town and killing random people while using them to make gourmet human meals for April. Richard tells April he has something special planned for their anniversary.

That’s when Jean comes over… and Richard knocks her out. April feeds on her sister. Which made me really sad. It’s clear Jean loved her sister more than anyone, even more than Richard. Okay, maybe not more than Richard, because he was the one killing for April. Part of me wonders what would have happened if Richard let Jean in on the plan; maybe she would have gone along with it? One night Daisy “accidentally” runs into Richard’s car. Richard wants to get her home to her family, but Daisy tells him she doesn’t have anyone to go to. Now Richard takes his murder spree into an even more dismal territory. He tells Daisy that he’s a doctor and can help her at his office… yeah. This is really where the segment goes from fun and weirdly sweet to straight-up uncomfortable.

Richard gets Daisy to his house and tells her the nurse is in the basement. As Daisy starts to head down the stairs he locks the door behind her. Suddenly Detective Kiernan shows up. There’s a bit of retconning with the flower we saw earlier at April’s crime scene, and the detective is thinking there’s a link to these multiple disappearances around town. Daisy screams, which prompts the detective to take Richard downstairs to see what is going on. It’s a basement of horrors, blood and body parts are strewn about. But WHAT DO WE SEE?! Daisy is ALSO whatever April has turned into, and they feast on the detective. It turns out Daisy is the one who turned April.

Hey, they said they wanted a child, right? “Grieving Process” finds a way to toe the line between what’s acceptable and not. It’s an incredibly dark, almost too dark, piece that doesn’t feel like it should be a Creepshow segment. The reveal at the end kind of wraps it up in a way that brings it back to a Creepshow atmosphere, but the rest of it feels out of its element. This segment is a well-crafted and uncomfortable story that might require a trigger warning for certain parts I didn’t feel right delving deeply into here.

One Comment

Leave a Reply
  1. A trigger warning? In a horrorshow? I’m thinking the title “Creepshow” should be enough warning for the ultra-sensitive millennial types. So silly.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Written by Brendan Jesus

I am an award-winning horror screenwriter, rotting away in New Jersey.

The polaroid camera has a photo coming out of it

Creepshow: “20 Minutes with Cassandra” & “Smile” (S4E1)

An alien T-poses while levitating two rocks with telekinesis

Creepshow “Meet The Belaskos” And “Cheat Code” (S4E4)