If you happen to find yourself driving through Central Illinois, do yourself a favor and take the Camp Street exit. If you glance to the right as you pass Carl’s Bakery, you might just catch a glimpse of the three billboards I purchased outside East Peoria:
“Watching Week 5 of NOS4A2”
“Still Nothing Happening”
“How Come, AMC?”
So far, I’ve gotten no word from the network. Part of me is beginning to wonder if they even know the answer to that question. The past month has been a struggle for those of us watching the series, but the enthusiasm from readers of Joe Hill’s novel has always been a light at the end of the tunnel. We sit through hours of nothing, hoping that at some point it will ramp up and become this juggernaut of a horror story that we were promised.
The problem with lights at the end of tunnels is that they are at the end. Sometimes, the tunnel is long enough for the Slow Mutants to catch up with our handcart, ending our journey before we get a chance to bask in the warmth of the light.
“you should feel glued to your seat, afraid to blink […] NOS4A2 isn’t giving us that same feeling of immediacy or tension, and the series is suffering because of it.
It’s not that the show has been bad, per se. It’s just been horrifically boring. I have found that I can leave the room for 5-10 minutes at a time and not miss anything. I can go to the bathroom, make some popcorn, and let the dogs out without skipping a beat. That’s not a good look for a horror series. When watching the best the genre has to offer, you should feel glued to your seat, afraid to blink, lest you miss the shape of Tuunbaq moving in the snowy background. NOS4A2 isn’t giving us that same feeling of immediacy or tension, and the series is suffering because of it. Nothing in this world scares me. Not the fancy man with the fancy car, not the fat janitor with mommy issues, and not the threat of losing my children to a land of Jolly. I sit there and watch this show, knowing that nothing will shock or frighten me for the entire duration of the episode. Again, not a good look for a horror television series.
During this, the fifth episode of the season, we are treated to absolutely nothing. There are characters talking to one another (Vic and Maggie set up a meeting with Manx; Vic makes her Dad choose between her and his endless supply of booty [BTW she loses]; she also kisses a boy at a party and watches as Maggie gets comically run over by the Wraith), but it’s all set up and no delivery.
Some shows can get away with this, like Game of Thrones did in their Season 8 episode, “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms”. They pulled it off because, at that point, we have been through 68 hours of hell and back with these characters, and we needed a breath before the Night King came a-knockin’. We’ve only had four hours with Vic and Company, and barely anything has happened in those short hours to warrant us caring about their emotional struggles.
We are learning more about the fantastical elements of the world, sure, but feeding a dog one kibble a day won’t keep it alive for long. We need more, and we need it fast. It has become painfully obvious to even non-readers like me that AMC is trying their best to stretch this story out to accommodate multiple seasons. It’s a forward-looking approach, but it’s easier to fall down a well if your eyes are fixed on the horizon.
Last week saw the show take a hard-left turn into a world of true crime and actual pain. This week saw the show completely abandon that feeling of realism and pretend that the incest and murder we saw before was a hallucination. We hopped from something primal and brutal straight back into teen drama and fantastical Christmas lands. It’s jarring to watch, and it adds a disjointed feeling to the entire premise of the show.
“We hopped from something primal and brutal straight back into teen drama and fantastical Christmas lands. It’s jarring to watch, and it adds a disjointed feeling to the entire premise of the show.”
Even with all of this negativity I just threw in your face, I’m still not giving up on the show. There are tiny hints of something special hidden deep within each episode, and if the showrunners can figure out how to mine those out and string them together, this could turn into a good horror television series. Unfortunately, I fear that I’m here alone, trying to both clear the rocks off of the rails and fight off the hungry, gaping mouths of the Muties. Here’s to the hope that, in the coming weeks, my Gunslinger will emerge and lead me to the light at the end of the tunnel.
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!