50 States of Fright S02 review: A haunting good time

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

The second season of 50 States of Fright, the spooky urban legend anthology series from Sam Raimi premieres today on Quibi. If you love ghost stories, you will have a haunting good time…

50 States of Fright is the latest terrifying venture from Sam Raimi. After a successful initial run on Quibi, the hit urban legend anthology series returns today with all new episodes.

We were fortunate enough to preview the show and if you are a fan of haunting ghost stories, then you are going to love season two. The unusual format of “quick bites” designed for viewing on mobile devices means that the creative teams needed to be firing on all four cylinders.

It is tough to engage audiences with the conventional one-hour episode of broadcast television but when you only have 15 minutes, it can be challenging to condense all the proper beats of a script into a storyline that makes sense. However, 50 States of Fright succeeds on every level.

The main theme that runs throughout the second season is ghosts. All of the state legends deal with spirits returning from the dead to terrorize the living.

More from 1428 Elm

Interestingly enough, “jump” scares are few and far between. Each vignette relies on old fashioned storytelling rather than special effects to set the tone.

Case in point, the very first episode located in Iowa entitled, “Almost There” is very reminiscent of Hitchcock’s Vertigo.

Iowa: “Almost There”

Mechanical engineer, Hannah Sullivan (Taissa Farmiga) has a terrible fear of heights (much like James Stewart’s character in Hitchcock’s masterpiece) which is understandable considering she escaped a family tragedy. As a result, she is plagued by recurring nightmares about the incident that claimed the lives of her mother and sisters.

When she gets a call from a co-worker (Ron Livingston) about an emergency turbine repair in a raging storm, not only does she have to brave her acrophobia and climb several hundred feet in the air but she has to contend with the evil specter of her mother trying to kill her.

Farmiga and Livingston have an easy chemistry on screen. So, you believe the harrowing circumstances that they undergo together. It’s the tension between them so deftly created by A Quiet Place’s scribes, Scott Beck and Bryan Woods as well as the ghost stalking Hannah that will keep audiences on the edge of their seats.

Washington: “13 Steps to Hell”

Evil Dead fans will be happy to know that Lee Cronin, the director of the upcoming franchise reboot, Evil Dead Rise has helmed an episode,“13 Steps to Hell.” This particular segment takes place in Washington state. The tale is set in an exceedingly disturbing and creepy cemetery.

When a trio of children are exploring the disheveled graveyard, one of them loses a beloved toy on a staircase that leads to an underground chamber. What happens when they try to retrieve it drives them to the brink of madness.

Cronin’s camera work, coupled with the way this particular episode is lit is very reminiscent of the way that Sam shot Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2. There is also a scene involving an apparition that eerily resembles a Deadite.

50 States of Fright
50 States of Fright. Image courtesy Quibi /

Colorado: “Red Rum” and Missouri: Dogwood-Azalea

Colorado’s offering, “Red Rum” was my favorite out of the series. When a group of obnoxious media influencers descends upon the pseudo Stanley Hotel, they are warned to respect the ghosts that inhabit the structure.

Which essentially means no filming. Of course, those self-involved, navel gazers don’t heed the tour guide (Christina Ricci) and one by one they pay for their transgressions in very interesting ways. There are so many nods to Stephen King’s The Shining in Daniel Goldhaber and Isa Mazzel’s script. So much so that the plot feels like the author himself could have penned it.

Lastly, Cate Devaney’s contribution, Missouri: Dogwood–Azalea was very touching. When a little girl moves to a crumbling, abandoned mansion, so her realtor parents can “flip” it, she becomes involved with an entity that just wants a friend.

However, the price of said connection is steep and results in some gory events but this segment tugs at the heart strings. William B. Davis, the “Smoking Man” from The X-Files does the narration.

The Verdict

If you are a fan of chilling ghost stories similar in tone to The Haunting of Hill House and The Changeling, then you will love season two of 50 States of Fright.

That being said, if you are expecting Sam Raimi’s signature “splatstick” horror comedy, you are going to be sorely disappointed. This anthology is more satisfying than Blumhouse’s Into the Dark and way more inventive.

Quibi’s series is worth checking out. Click here for information on how you can get a free two-week trial of the streaming network.


Let us know in the comments if you plan on watching Sam Raimi’s 50 States of Fright.