Hirotaka Adachi digs in the J-horror claws with the help of modern folklore's terrifying power
An atypical Americans in Japan story that uses white insensitivity to culture to provide its dark horrors.
FOX’s Scream Queens
Season 1, Episode 9: “Ghost Stories”
Directed by Michael Uppendahl
Written by Ryan Murphy
* For a review of the previous episode, “Mommie Dearest” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Thanksgiving” – click here
After the revelations of “Mommie Dearest”, we’re over at Kappa House once more.
Boone (Nick Jonas) is in disguise, still. People continually think he’s Joaquin Phoenix and he passes off his public appearance as part of a “performance art piece“. Silly Boone, he spills a ton of drink over his fake beard, and Chanel #3 (Billie Lourd) happens to see him sans-beard. But she believes it’s a ghost, coming back to kill her for saying he “couldn’t gay pledge“. Boone scares her, she takes off. Done and done.
Chanel #1 (Emma Roberts) rants on about everything from “Lewis and Clark’s gay camping extravaganza” to Pocahontas and the pilgrims. Then there’s Chad Radwell (Glen Powell) who gets down on one knee, not to propose but to give Chanel a silver turkey wishbone necklace, inviting her to his family’s ranch estate. None of the other girls are hugely thrilled about any of it, but Hester (Lea Michele) puts on the fake face, while Chanel #3 doesn’t feign much and #5 (Abigail Breslin) cowers to the side.
Chad: “You’re so hot you give my bone a bone”
Grace (Skyler Samuels) is devastated about her father Wes (Oliver Hudson) and his lies. Zayday (Keke Palmer) invites Grace to her grandmother’s place for Thanksgiving, being the good friend. So at least there’s some solace for poor Grace.
The Chanels are still dealing with Mama Denise (Niecy Nash). Before too much more of that, #3 tells them about “dead gay Boone” and his haunting. They’re all sceptical at first, though, Denise stokes their fears even further like a dummy. She sits them down for some “really scary ghost stories“. There’s an awesome little Japanese horror scene about the supposed Kappa, a ghost hiding in the toilet which snatches “onto your vagina“. After the first story, she tells another one about the Red Cloak; another ghost inhabiting women’s washrooms. She is a fucking riot, Niecy Nash. Even better since becoming Mama Denise. I love how they did this sequence with homage to J-Horror, filming things similar to the Japanese ghost style.
Chad Radwell is also confronted by Boone. The dumb man also thinks Boone is a ghost – “Dude, you’re so warm. I thought ghosts were cold, like vapour.” They have a ridiculous dude-bro conversation about who got hot, who didn’t, who’s been killed, et cetera. Boone lays an even more ridiculous story on his old friend, about having to have sex with a human woman in order to stay on earth. So he borrows a shirt from Chad, claiming it’s to woo Zayday. Uh oh, is there trouble coming for Ms. Williams?
In a washroom stall, one of the ghost stories Denise told to the girls almost comes to life. Except one of the Red Devils shows up, not the Red Cloak, as she told it. Fighting off the would-be-killer, Denise tries to run. She gathers the girls, but not to take off: she needs more ghost stories, y’know, to calm her down.
Hester breaks one out for them by the fireplace, taking everyone back to the 1950s; a story about a long ago sorority girl. It’s all about the Meathook Killer. The old urban legend of a killer in the backseat. Luckily, this takes Denise’s blood pressure down, relieves her gas, so they’re back in action. Or not really. #5 decides to leave campus, the rest of them wait to see if she makes it out – in case the killer is still around. One thing I loved about this scene is how Ryan Murphy plays with the horror tropes: Denise is attacked, then as soon as she makes it back to the group, no more danger.
In Zayday’s room, she and Earl Grey (Lucien Laviscount) are fooling around a bit. He goes back to his room to get all the perfect things: champagne, chocolate covered strawberries, a silk robe and lotions. While gone, Boone climbs up in the window. He tries to play a game on Zayday, but she’s too smart. Grace shows up, too. They accidentally knock him out a window. Yet SURPRISE, SURPRISE: gone. Just like Michael fucking Myers.
Downstairs, Grace and Zayday reveal the truth about Boone. Nobody believes them initially. Then, outside #5 struggles to haul her luggage away, as well as Earl Grey returns with his lovemaking kit. Only Earl is stabbed by Boone in his Red Devil attire. Cold, cold stuff.
On her way home, #5 finds herself in an urban legend type situation. A radio announcement talks about Boone being on the loose. All of a sudden, a truck behind her is blaring its horn, shining the lights. Déjà vu? She pulls into a gas station, a trucker does, too. Just like the story Hester told. But Boone is nowhere to be found. Quickly, though, the Red Devil appears and kills the trucker, sending Chanel #5 back to the university campus.
Chad and Hester have another confrontation. It’s been awhile since they’ve last had a talk. More than that, she has a bedazzled neck brace on again. He gives her a bunch of hilarious reasons why he’s bringing Chanel for Thanksgiving instead of her – including her breath makes it feel like he’s making out with the Hamburglar, she has a poo belly, and the last time they “porked” she possibly let out a dirty fart. I mean, I was cracking up at this point. He’s the biggest douche on the face of the planet, and it is so god damned funny.
With #5 back, the girls are all locked down in Kappa House. #1 won’t even give her props for having a real life scary story to tell because it’s a copy of the story Hester told. Another hard laugh from the gut there. Hester shows up and tells everyone she banged Chad – and claims she’s pregnant, as well. Whaaat? Seriously? Or is this a ploy? Wouldn’t take much to con Chad into believing it, I’m sure. Things get nastier for Chad after Chanel #1 makes a threat to him, leaving him to wonder if she might be one of the Red Devil Killers.
Chad: “That’s just how us Radwells roll: we make our beds and we lie in them”
Chanel #1 is rallying the Chanels back together, to try and make it a three against one deal. She wants Hester out of the way. They’re, seemingly, going to plan on killing her. A weak apology draws both #3 and #5 back into the fold. Though, there’s no change in her bitchy disposition.
In other matters at Kappa House, Grace and Zayday are trying to tell the idiot police about what’s going on re: Boone. Detective Chisholm (Jim Klock) brings in a paranormal expert, even though Boone is clearly not a ghost but merely faked his own death. The girls are fed up with all the nonsense, while Dean Munsch (Jamie Lee Curtis) doesn’t do much other than bumble. At the same time, I think the dean is starting to reach her tipping point, no matter how saucy and narcissistic she is under it all.
After that whole situation, Munsch tells Grace and Zayday about the two babies that night twenty years ago at Kappa. Seems the body gave off a death rattle and popped out another kid – possibly it was Boone. Jesus, that’s grim!
Boone meets with the other Red Devil. They’re waiting for Gigi Caldwell (Nasim Pedrad), talking about knives; at least Boone is talking. When Gigi shows up, she’s no longer the goofy, aloof type she is with the sorority girls. She’s more like a Bond villain, honestly. Traipsing around an amazing looking upper scale living room, sipping on whiskey. When Boone gets up in Gigi’s face, talking about all the things he’s done for her and their murderous venture. When the other Red Devil approaches, Boone is stabbed viciously instead of Gigi, which I was expecting. Twists and twists. Can’t wait to find out who’s behind the other mask.
Gigi (to Red Devil): “Well, your commitment to revenge is clearly greater than your brother’s was.”
The finale of the episode reveals Esther is not actually pregnant, through the Chanels feeding her things bad for embryos. But out of nowhere, Chanel #1 runs to her on the stairs to say sorry. Really? Nah. As I expected, #1 gives Hester and her bedazzled neck brace a rough push down the spiral staircase. A solid snap comes right at the end. Chanel #6 has been vanquished, and #1 believes it “had to happen“. Now she says Hester’s death is a cautionary tale, against those who try and rise up to take the top queen’s man. Another ghost story for Kappa House. Brutal!
Stay tuned for another episode next week, “Thanksgiving”. Here’s to hoping there’ll be more exciting revelations and accusations and murder!