Horror anthology series offers up a buffet of genre fun, scares, and more. It’s one reason I’m drawn to them so naturally, especially those that take each episode to explore a different theme and scare. While Shudder’s Creepshow is one of my favorites, the platform offers another anthology with Deadhouse Dark. A Shudder exclusive created by Enzo Tedeschi, Deadhouse Dark is a six-episode series.
Now, short-form horror stories work well. It’s what made all-ages horror, like Are You Afraid of the Dark?, work and what makes the CW’s Two Sentence Horror Stories excel. They allow for concise tension that can lead to big fears. In Deadhouse Dark, each of the six short films feels whole and complete and even ends with enough mystery to keep you thinking for a little bit as you press play on the next. At just around 20 minutes apiece, it makes the series extremely bingeable. But, they each lack a sense of cohesion needed to tie a series together. Officially, it’s all anchored by a woman who receives a ‘mystery box’ from the dark web and then discovers the sinister secret it holds. That said, it’s hard to actually find any cohesion across the series that feels intentional.
For example, while Two Sentence Horror Stories doesn’t tell the same story twice or uses the same characters, it does have a theme—the viral trend of two-sentence horror stories stretched into short-form horror episodes. But in Deadhouse Dark, I found myself questioning what the connective tissue within the series was until the penultimate episode when the audience is expected to see it. That said, the connection of each installment through “The Mystery Box” expertly connects itself to one of the previous stories but fails to join the others. The final episode, “My Empire of Dirt,” is out of place entirely.
That said, “Dashcam,” “No Pain No Gain,” “The Staircase,” and “A Tangled Web We Weave” do focus on a similar theme: technology. Instead of going the traditional route of showing the dangers of technology, each short film uses specific aspects of tech as a lens with which to deliver its story. For “Dashcam,” it’s just as the title describes; it’s a short told through dashcam footage with a twist that works extremely well. In “No Pain No Gain,” you get a look at health and wellness through a recording that pushes a young athlete to the brink. Then in “The Staircase,” a supernatural investigator YouTuber gets way more than he bargained for. And finally, in “A Tangled Web We Weave,” online dating turns deadly while a rat scurries in the walls.
The last two episodes break from this trend. “The Mystery Box” directly connects to “A Tangled Web We Weave,” and in that way, this is where the series began to lose me. The final episode, “My Empire Dirt,” is a grotesque one, focused on a hoarder in hospice. It grossed me out, and it shook me, but it felt fitter for Creepshow than for what had been set up in Deadhouse Dark.
Overall, each installment in Deadhouse Dark works on its own, with “Dashcam” being my choice as the standout. That said, as a collection, it all falls apart. While I still think that it’s well worth the watch, especially given its short length, it lacks the cohesion necessary as a series. There are moments of great horror and moments that make you turn away from the screen, but ultimately it could have been more.
Deadhouse Dark is available exclusively on Shudder.
- Rating - 6/106/10
Overall, each installment in Deadhouse Dark works on its own, with “Dashcam” being my standout choice. That said, as a collection, it all falls apart. While I still think that it’s well worth the watch, especially given its short length, it lacks the cohesion necessary as a series. There are moments of great horror and moments that make you turn away from the screen, but ultimately it could have been more.
Kate is co-founder, EIC, and CCO of BWT. She’s also a Certified Rotten Tomatoes Critic, host, and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho?. She also manages all PR relationships for comics, manga, film, TV, and anime. She has an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies focusing on how pop culture impacts society.