For the last few weeks, I’ve been begging AMC’s NOS4A2 to bring the scares. The show has been good, don’t get me wrong, but it was missing the spine-tingling that I was expecting from the start. Thankfully for myself and viewers everywhere, the third episode gave us a bit of a taste of the horror to come.
This episode, we meet Jolene (Judith Roberts), another “strong creative” like Vic who had a previous run in with Mr. Banx. She’s been housed in a psychiatric hospital for a long time, and she’s unable to speak or walk. Charlie stops by early in the episode to pay her a visit. His powers are on full display as he visits. He shorts out the CCTV camera, drops the temperature to near freezing, and brings her a gift from her childhood. You see, Manx wants to know if it was Jolene who opened the Shorter Way. To find out, and to torture the old woman, Manx puts her in roller skates and unceremoniously drops her to the floor.
In Iowa, Maggie’s Scrabble tiles are warning her about Vic. The Wraith is hunting the brat, and she flies to Massachusetts to warn her new friend. What they don’t know, is that while they speak to each other about the evil coming for Vic, Charlie and Bing are combing the countryside, looking for the powerful entity capable of creating a rip in space and time. They meet little Haley Smith near the bridge, and you can see Manx’s eyes widen as they interact for the first time.
So far, NOS4A2 has been a lot of smoke but not much fire. That all changes when Bing enters the Smith residence to abduct his first child for Charlie Manx. The name of the episode kind of gives it all away, but Bing breaks into the home wearing a terrifying gas mask and his worn-out work clothes. He dons these pieces of armor almost like Batman gearing up for the first time, perfectly mimicking the hero complex that resides in his own mind.
We get a great POV shot through the gas mask as Bing goes from living room, to kitchen, in the Smith’s home. It harkens back to the perfect POV shot of young Michael Myers as he stalks his sister in 1978’s Halloween. Bing enters the kitchen, sees a used condom in the trash, picks it up like the big old weirdo he is, and approaches the door to the bathroom, where Haley’s mom is showering off her sex musk.
Bing uses a hose to pump the bathroom full of the knock-out gas he stole from work. Haley’s mom doesn’t go down quietly, though, and causes quite a fuss before eventually hitting the floor, unconscious. He’s not as brutal and ready for this task as he thinks he is. After she goes down, Bing goes up into Haley’s room and abducts the young girl, carrying her out into the Wraith like the masked vigilante he sees himself as being.
Like I mentioned before, NOS4A2 has been light on the spooks in the first few weeks. It’s almost as if the showrunners are trying to set us up for scares to come. The Gas Mask Man doesn’t make us jump in our seat or hide under the covers, but it does show us that they know what they’re doing over there at AMC. They show us a portion of Manx’s evil mind, give us a hulking horror in Bing, and set up a great upcoming confrontation between them and Vic.
When Vic was approached by Maggie early on, asking for help to find poor little Danny from Here, she was reluctant to get involved. She has college plans, meets a cute boy, visits RISD and falls in love with the life she is laying out for herself. That all changes when she finds out that her closest friend, Haley, has been abducted by the Wraith. You can see it in her face. She is going to use the Shorter Way to find her, and she is going to land herself into a world of Christmas Terror when she does.
I mention every week that I’m not one of the millions of you who have read Joe Hill’s novel. I’m trying to see if the show can hold my attention and keep me coming back for more if I don’t have the same emotional connection that you do to these characters. So far, so good, on that front, but if NOS4A2wants to wow me with some supernatural spookiness, it had better start soon. Here’s to hoping that Episode 4 will deliver on the amazing promise set up in these first three weeks.
NOS4A2 airs every Sunday night on AMC. Keep your eyes on Nightmare on Film Street as we continue to recap each episode and give you the latest and greatest horror news available on the web. While you’re at it, join our Facebook group, Horror Fiends of Nightmare on Film Street and let us know what you think!