50 States Of Fright: The First 3 Episodes (TV Review)

Last Updated on December 21, 2021

PLOT: A lumberer and his money-hungry wife go through an “incident.” Sorry, but that’s all I can say. The less you know, the better.

LOWDOWN: 50 STATES OF FIGHT has been on my radar for a while now. How could it not be? We get Sam Raimi producing a brand new horror anthology. Yea, I’m all in. No questions asked. This release comes from the indie label Gunpowder & Sky, which just released the excellent SEA FEVER (my review HERE). With their new horror brand ALTER, 50 STATES OF FIGHT is streaming exclusively on Quibi and is launching the series with Sam Raimi’s three-parter THE GOLDEN ARM.

Quibi is a different beast when it comes to a streaming service. Solely focused on short-form entertainment exclusive to your smartphone/mobile device, this reinforces the notion that I may be getting too damn old. Hey, it happens to EVERONE. You just can’t beat a cold beer and a big screen. Not to mention, David Lynch summed up the mobile movie watching experience perfectly when he said, “You’ll think you have experienced it, but you’ll be cheated. It’s such a sadness that you think you’ve seen a film on your f*cking telephone. Get real!”

A wise man once said that a change is gonna come, so I decided to get with the times, download the app, and give THE GOLDEN ARM a fighting chance. As far as Sam Rami’s debut episodes are concerned, this once again reminded me why he is and will always be, THE MAN. This is Sam Raimi going full-throttle. We get POV shots, over-the-top blood, quick cuts, and a little bit of camp squeezed in for good measure. A condensed mixture of THE GIFT and DRAG ME TO HELL for the smartphone generation, THE GOLDEN ARM almost acts like a short introduction for a new era of fans.

The three-parter is broken up exactly into a three-act structure. We start with the setup, then deal with the confrontation and end with the resolution. It’s tough to flesh out such a short story, but this breakdown was a smart choice by writers Sam and Ivan Raimi, and it kept things moving along. Not enough time for a deep exercise in trauma, yet they were able to cover all of the main plot beats and make everything feel whole. That being said, storywise, I can’t give you… well, anything. These episodes are bite-sized urban legends that run anywhere from five to ten minutes. With such a quick running time, anything discussed here would unintentionally become a spoiler.

Though any decent synopsis would give away the entire story arc, I can say that Travis Fimmel and Rachel Brosnahan nailed their respective roles. Fimmel plays Dave, the sweet, hardworking countryman who wants to provide for his southern belle. While Brosnahan steals the screen as a wife who believes she deserves the best of the best. There is a bit of that embellished “Rami dialogue” that keeps this from being completely straight, but the exaggerations actually work in the story’s favor. You know what you’re getting from a Sam Raimi story, and he doesn’t disappoint here. THE GOLDEN ARM goes a bit balls to the wall towards the end, and Brosnahan owns it entirely. This is her badass story, and I’m ALL FOR IT.

Any drawbacks? Well, ya. You need to watch this on a f*cking mobile device. I tried on my laptop but to no avail. Maybe this is the future? God, I hope not, but I wouldn’t bet against it. Everything looked beautiful and cinematic, but without a proper screen and some decent audio, It loses a little bit of soul. Another issue was the episode length. I wanted more time with these characters and would have loved to see certain parts explored more in-depth, but, again, that’s the point here. My nagging issues land solely on the format, which isn’t a critique of the story, character, or direction: All of those worked wonders. In the end, this “new” experience just ain’t my bag when it comes to storytelling.

GORE: They aren’t shy with the amplified blood but I don’t want to ruin it with specifics.

BOTTOM LINE:  I can’t vouch for the rest of the episodes in 50 STATES OF FRIGHT, but if THE GOLDEN ARM is any indication, then we are in for a damn fine time. This feels like it could be a sorta “best of” Sam Raimi for a new era of fans, but that’s precisely why I loved it. Everything he excels at is boiled down into a cinematic short. For long time fans, there are a few nods to some of his older stuff and maybe even a little Delta 88 action thrown in. If you can muster through the mobile experience and all that comes with it, then you’ll love these first three episodes as I did. Now, I don’t like the idea of Quibi (in fact, it goes against everything I hold dear), but these limitations are its entire selling point. Quick and easy stories for the ADD generation that you can watch anywhere and anytime. 50 STATES OF FRIGHT drops TODAY, Monday, April 13th. Check it out.

Source: Arrow in the head

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