Saturday, October 8, 2016

Review: Goosebumps "It Came from Beneath the Sink"

After the ending to this episode, I have a tip for any and all aspiring artists out there.

No matter what you do, vertical mouths will look like vaginas.

No matter what you do.
I'm not saying "don't do it," but just make sure you know what you're doing. H.R. Giger made a whole career out of such imagery.

Among other artists.
Plot
This is a solid example of an oft-recurring story element in horror: The Unwanted Item; things that their owners simply want to get rid of, usually because they cause misfortune or otherwise inconvenience them

These sorts of cursed items usually get one of two resolutions.

Option 1: The owner finds a new person to (willingly or unknowingly) accept the curse.
Option 2: The owner finds some way to overcome the curse, which may or may not lead to a twist ending.

Kat has chosen the second option, as she did in the original book. Interestingly, in the original book, Kat succeeded at killing the Grool with kindness, as opposed to simply trapping it forever.

Personally, I like the change from the source material.

"Pfft. How can you say that and still call yourself a critic?"
It's a delicious bit of irony for the story protagonist to turn the tables on the monster of the week and trap it in unending terror instead of the other way around.
Also, on an unrelated note, I'd love to know what the heck the artist of the Korean cover art was reading.

I don't remember a swarm of Gengars in this story....
(Unintentional) Theme
Well, there's not much in the way of an actual theme for this episode; it's a typical, but still good, example of a classic horror story template.

So... there's a bit of an unintentional theme running through the episode. And before I discuss it, let's get all the immature snickers out right now.

Vagina.

Vagina.

Female reproductive organs.

Okay, we good? Then let's continue.
The name of the Grool is also slang for... well, it's a portmanteau of "girl" and "drool."

The lanx looks like the orifice responsible for it.
The lead actress went on to star in the Ginger Snaps films, which uses lycanthropy as a metaphor for menstruation.

And Amanda Tapping is infamous for this ridiculous line.
The weird part is that all of these things just kind of happened separately. All these things that tie this episode into this weird vagina theme take place after the episode was written, filmed, and aired. And it seems like no matter what part of this episode I talk about, I just keep finding more connections. God, I feel like Jim Carrey in The Number 23, but with female body parts instead of numbers.

Yeah, about like that.
Characters
Kat Merton (Katharine Isabelle)
I really like this character.

As written, the character is a fairly nondescript Goosebumps protagonist whom the adults don't believe. But Katharine Isabelle gives a take-no-guff performance that I absolutely adore. Sure, she's going up against a monstrosity that radiates misfortune, but she meets that challenge with some fireplace tongs and a shovel when it comes down to it. With a couple one-liners on top.

Daniel Merton (Tyrone Savage)
Your archetypical younger brother character, though he's less annoying than many examples of this character type.

Carlo (Ashley Brown)
Your archetypical token black nerd best friend character, though he's less annoying than many examples of this character type. Also, the actor is an honorary Goosebumps/Magic School Bus actor, having voiced several callers in Producer segments for the latter show.

The Janitor (Jack Newman)
The real hero of the story, I think we can all agree.

And yet another connection to Mean Girls.
Visuals
I am so glad I never saw this episode as a kid. I'd still be traumatized today.


Get out of here, creepy trees. I've got a new worst nightmare.
You get out of here too, Grool. Seriously, you're creeping me out.
And yes, I do realize that it's a sponge prop with some light-up eyeballs and fake fangs, but the effect as one thing in its favor. It's there. It exists. It's a practical effect that writhes and snarls in the same way one would imagine a sponge monster to.

Sure, it might only look like a sponge, but that's just it. It looks like a sponge. I'm betting there's a sponge in your house right now. Much like Doctor Who's Nestene Duplicates, this is a monster that preys on the idea that you may have already let a monster into your house without realizing it.

Heck, an everyday object made terrifying? This is basically what we would get if Steven Moffat wrote a kids' show.

"Doctor Who is a kids' show."
You shut your face, Slappy!

Barking Dogs: 1
But he did a lot of barking.

Child-Grabbing Count: 0 
The Grool doesn't exactly have hands.

Foliage POV Shots: 0
The Grool hides in plain sight.
Red Paint: No
But there was brown paint all over the backyard.

X-Files Shout Out: Yes
Just because you say this episode is better than The X-Files doesn't make it so.

Final Thoughts
All things considered, a solid episode on all fronts, if nothing particularly special. If it weren't for the Grool forever haunting my mind, I'd probably forget this episode.

Next time, three Canadian kids come across an evil everyday item that brings misfortune. That sounds familiar....

See you then!

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