50 States of Fright review: A road trip through the states’ scariest stories

50 States of Fright. Image Courtesy Jeff Weddell, Quibi
50 States of Fright. Image Courtesy Jeff Weddell, Quibi /

We make stops in Michigan and Kansas during our road trip through Sam Raimi’s 50 States of Fright. Here’s what we thought of the first two stories.

Sam Raimi has us traveling the United States in his new anthology series 50 States of Fright. Each episode (broken down into three mini-sodes; at least that seems to be the pattern so far) dives into lore based on that episode’s state.

As a Michigander, I was stoked to see that 50 States of Fright’s premiere took place in my state of residence and featured “The Golden Arm.” For those unaware of the folklore, “The Golden Arm” was a story told in oral tradition, and as can be expected, changes based on who’s telling the story. The premise of the tale is that a person with a golden artificial limb dies, and out-of-greed, another person steals the limb. Following the theft, the deceased person returns to get back what was theirs.

In 50 States of Fright, The Golden Arm” dives into this folklore by telling the story of husband and wife, Dave and Heather (played by Travis Fimmel and Rachel Brosnahan). After a tree-cutting incident, Heather loses her arm and convinces her husband to build a golden prosthetic. If this was a happily ever after, the story would end here. But this is the horror genre, and things must go downhill for the couple.

The Golden Arm” has the over-the-top effects that can be expected in something directed by The Evil Dead’s Sam Raimi. However, this is seen in the first episode’s cliff-hanger, and unfortunately, doesn’t return until the conclusion. Honestly, it’s the last few minutes that make the first two episodes worth the watch.

50 States of Fright
50 States of Fright. Image Courtesy Jeff Weddell, Quibi /

The biggest downfall of the Quibi format is that if the content doesn’t grasp the viewer’s attention right off-the-bat, then that viewer might not return to witness the story’s conclusion. If “The Golden Arm” hadn’t released all three episodes at one time, I don’t believe I would have enjoyed the tale as much as I had. Thankfully, I was able to devour this episode in one sitting so that I can get to the ending’s pay-off.

50 States of Fright’s second episode has us road-tripping to Kansas to see “America’s Largest Ball of Twine.” In the process of moving, mother and daughter stop at a roadside attraction in order to stretch their legs. We soon discover that the small town in Kansas has more secrets than why someone would be intrigued by a 14-foot tall ball of twine.

In terms of atmosphere, “America’s Largest Ball of Twine” did feel different from that of “The Golden Arm,” however, what remains the same is that both stories are being told through an interview format. As with mockumentaries and found-footage type films, this helps add a sense of realism in a fictional tale. As a huge fan of these types of movies, I hope this is something 50 States of Fright continues in future episodes.

As with all anthologies, stories throughout the series are most-likely going to be hit or miss. I found both episodes to be, for the most part, fun.  Yet, “The Golden Arm” lacked depth but made up for it with its effects and supernatural elements. “America’s Largest Ball of Twine” had a twist that I absolutely loved, but I do feel like the episode will be forgettable. Although my feelings are not one-hundred percent positive, 50 States of Fright is something that I will continue watching, and as I am sure there will be some winners throughout the season.

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Have you watched 50 States of Fright yet? Tell us what you thought in the comments! 

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