Inspired by the viral fan fiction, Two Sentence Horror Stories is a critically-acclaimed psychological horror anthology series that features a different sub-genre of horror in each episode. Over the last season, and season two’s opening episode, it’s clear that the series, created by Vera Miao, exists to subvert classic horror tropes while also showcasing everything fans love about the genre. “Elliot,” the second episode of Two Sentence Horror Stories Season 2 is a story that centers a trans character while acknowledging the tropes that come with that have been traditionally assigned to that identity in media by cis creators.
In “Elliot,” which is directed by Chase Joynt and written by Stephanie Adams-Santos, audiences follow a transmasculine student through daily school life. In a small town, Elliot is consistently bullied by other students for his identity, deadnamed, and tormented by faculty. As Elliot tries to hide from the school, he finds himself meeting a school janitor who offers him a way to take care of his bullies once and for all.
Initially, my fear with this episode was that we would again see the trauma of a trans person being used to push them to revenge or be the only thing we learn about the character. While the transphobia featured in the opening of the episode is viscerally upsetting, it becomes clear by the third act that Elliot is not defined by his pain. This is done explicitly by having him state this and finding the power in himself to save himself and others in his position. Too often, horror and other genres embrace the trope “bury your gays,” killing off gay and trans characters to benefit the others in the cast or using their pain as their only defining feature. In “Elliot” however, we get a story that actively pushes against this with our lead character exclaiming “I’m more than just my pain.”
Like most of the Two Sentence Horror Stories episodes, it’s hard to discuss the plot without spoiling the episode. That said, “Elliot” has moments that pay homage to films like Carrie before subverting them with its ending. While Carrie’s revenge was hurting those around her, Elliot’s revenge is his perseverance—in living as himself even in the face of his backward town. As the story unwinds, it’s clear that Elliot didn’t wish to cause others harm, but rather, just wanted to be safe, to be himself.
Additionally, the body horror used in this episode is well done, edited in quick flashes to show the bullies being punished in quick bursts. While it is nothing too graphic, it is terrifying thanks to the editing techniques and the use of sound design to make sure the audience hears the breaking of bones.
Overall, Two Sentence Horror Stories has stuck to its mission from season one, especially by not only telling diverse stories but by also making sure those behind the camera are representative of them. Elliot’s story becomes even more powerful given it’s directed by Joynt, a trans creator who has shared his transition story in You Only Live Twice, which he co-authored with Mike Hoolboom. As a whole, “Elliot” is a strong episode, bringing back an Are You Afraid of the Dark nostalgia. When paired with the first episode of the season, which aired immediately before “Elliot,” the series offers a poignant look at high school life, identity, and the terrors that stalk the halls: both monster and human.
Two Sentence Horror Stories Season 2 airs two episodes every Tuesday on the CW and on CWTV.com the day after broadcast for free.
Two Sentence Horror Stories Season 2 Episode 2 - "Elliot"
As a whole, “Elliot” is a strong episode, bringing back an Are You Afraid of the Dark nostalgia. When paired with the first episode of the season, which it aired immediately after, the series offers a poignent look at high school life, identity, and the terrors that stalk the halls, both monster and human.
Kate Sánchez is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of But Why Tho? A Geek Community. There, she coordinates film, television, anime, and manga coverage. Kate is also a freelance journalist writing features on video games, anime, and film. Her focus as a critic is championing animation and international films and television series for inclusion in awards cycles.