Two Sentence Horror Stories takes the internet phenomena of two-sentence scary stories and turns it into a television series. Here’s what you need to know about the opening episodes of season 2, titled “Bag Man” and “Elliot.”
(Note: the following contains spoilers for both episodes!)
In “Bag Man,” a group of teens serving a detention discover they’re trapped with a terrifying monster.
I have mixed feelings about this one. One one hand, “trapped with a killer” is a classic horror premise. And the Bag Man himself is pretty scary! His appearance and the way he emerges from the bag are definitely creepy. But it feels like the episode doesn’t give him quite enough time and attention.
This episode setup is heavily influenced by its attempts to draw on real-life horror. The students have detention because someone set off a cherry bomb, leading to a school lockdown that panicked students, parents, and the community at large. And after they pull the fire alarm in an attempt to alert their teacher about the Bag Man, he institutes another lockdown. Effectively, this traps the high schoolers in a room with the murderous entity.
School shootings are an undeniably horrific occurrence, but that’s not exactly what “Bag Man” focuses on. Instead it’s the threat of violence in schools and the precautions we’re forced to take because of them. I guess the message ends up being something like “it doesn’t matter what we do, it’s bad either way.” Inevitably can definitely work in the horror genre, but any potential message about the real world gets confused by the supernatural element at play. Sure, the Bag Man is scary, but what does he have to do with the school? Aren’t you taking away from the horror of a school lockdown by presenting the Bag Man as the “real” threat?
For me, the supernatural horror and real-world horror are at odds in “Bag Man”, and it detracts from the episode overall.
On the other hand, “Elliot” does a much better job of showcasing real-life horror alongside its supernatural horror. The story follows Elliot, a trans teen facing daily discrimination and abuse at school.
When Elliot stumbles upon a janitor in the school basement, she offers him a way out. In exchange for a page of music he wrote, she’ll provide him with a powerful instrument that will make Elliot’s abusers feel his pain. In hopes he can get people to understand him, Elliot agrees.
Of course, this devil’s bargain isn’t quite what he expected. When Elliot blows the horn, his abusers feel pain alright – their bodies begin twisting in grotesque and unnatural ways. Oh, and the music book Elliot gave the janitor in the exchange? She’s using it to steal his soul.
While the structure of “Elliot” is a little less textbook “scary” than “Bag Man,” the emotional element and the clever blending of real-world and supernatural horror makes it the more interesting and effective of the pair.
So, what did you think of the season 2 openers of Two Sentence Horror Stories? Let us know in the comments.
New episodes of Two Sentence Horror Stories air Tuesdays on The CW.