‘Mommie Dearest’: Latest Scream Queens Too Late In The Gore Game



Michael Uppendahl directs Mommie Dearest with little style and by-the-numbers execution. There are hardly any remarkable shots in the episode, the eighth entry in Fox’s freshman year of Scream Queens, and the whole experience feels a little cheap. I’m not saying it’s horrible directed, the contrary indeed, only Mommie Dearest is drastically less stylistic of an entry than say The Pilot or Hell Week. Though I watched the episode late night- I work third shift and must view the episodes when I get home (something I’m used to) – I’m having a hard time even thinking of any disciplined camera work or composition. Oh wait, there’s one. No, I lost it. Now that I mention it, there’s a realization zoom focusing on Chanel when Denise does something she feels is too drastic. It’s cinematic language and was a welcomed edition to the episode.

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While I’ll always be a director’s viewer first (I adore the art of direction and filmmaking and what how the practice can amplify a script’s true weight and potential), I do like a good story and I’m at odds with my feeling on Mommie Dearest. It’s true the plot is moved with a fever pace in Scream Queen’s last outing, probably more than any previous episode, but there is something different about the whole presentation and the tone of the piece. Mommie Dearest feels as if it’s been drained of all the self-referential horror humor, and in its place is standard comic parts with average, though effective, timing. I found myself laughing, but it doesn’t feel as is Scream Queens is the same show it was before The World Series break.

While last week’s episode Beware of Young Girls, directed by Barbara Brown, was a big shift in tone and went so far as to never even feature “The Red Devil”, the episode was still a well-executed piece of mystery, “Who Done It?” piece of entertainment. Here, it feels overstuffed with story, which is a bit ironic, and the 80s horror wit is almost all but gone. There is an awesome scene in the beginning of the Mommie Dearest with Jamie Lee Curtis skewering her mother Janet Lee in Alfred Hitchcock’s famous Psycho shower scene that’s worth watching the episode alone. So there’s that. There’s also a returning character in Mommie Dearest, which would have been awesome, had the series nurtured the actual story much earlier.

As for the acting, there are really one two players here that have any weighted lines or moments, those two being actresses Skyler Samuels and Niecy Nash.

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Samuels, playing lead Grace Gardner, is decent in the episode. I honestly feel she isn’t a strong actress, but the tone of the first half of the season allowed for it. Here, her performance comes off a little unconvincing with the show’s seeming shift in tone and slightly exposes areas the actress could work on. She’s not horrible, but if the show was highly dramatic or serious in nature, she wouldn’t be able to keep up.

Nash is a different story. While her job is to bring the audience laughs, and not move the story in a dramatic way like actress Samuels, she’s still too killer at the comedic playing Denise Hemphill. I can’t see her and not laugh, and that’s before she even delivers a line. She gets a lot of screen time in Mommie Dearest and unless your body is funnybone-less, you’ll be having a blast in no time with her. I sure hope you have that bone Fright Fans.


Mommie Dearest is a far cry from of the some of the series early entries, especially last week’s Beware of Young Girls. While the episode pack a lot of story, the proceedings feel rushed and unnatural (mainly due to the show being almost plotless early in the season but heavy in wit). It’s a funny episode, but hurts the series as a whole and should have been moving its plot early if the show wanted to do so. Maybe it’s because I just binged watched MTV’s Scream series, and saw a suburb horror show, that I’m being harsh. Then again, probably not. If you haven’t seen the Scream series, change that, it’s epic. Till next time Horror Heads.


Join 1428 next week as we dive head first into next week’s Scream Queens episode, Ghost Stories, and check out the preview of the episode below courtesy of Fox.