The season of spookiness and horror is almost over, however, we still have a couple of days left to pack in more tricks and treats. If you’re looking for more terror, then Hulu has it for you! As part of their Huluween branding, the streaming series released the American Horror Stories Huluween event! Four new episodes, each with its own isolated horror story, dropped late last week, so continue on to see which episodes are the right bite-sized horror story for you!
[Warning: Parts of these episodes and this article discuss miscarriages and eating disorders. Please read at your own risk. If you have gone through a miscarriage or are having trouble conceiving, Chasingrainbows.org, Miscarriagehurts.com, and Fertilityoutloud.com are just a few places that have resources to help. If you’re experiencing disordered eating, you can go to the National Eating Disorder Association for some information and resources.]
[Warning: Spoilers from the 4-part American Horror Stories Huluween event are below!]
American Horror Stories Huluween: “Besties”
Directed by Max Winkler and written by Joseph Cole Baken.
Something wicked this way comes, as the first episode opens. There’s a high school performance of Macbeth playing out on stage, but something odd is afoot. As the four stars begin vomiting, the curtains are hastily closed and the story jumps to three months previously.
It’s then that we meet Shelby (Emma Halleen) and her father Guy (Seth Gabel), who has just moved into a new home after the death of her mother from cancer. Shelby feels all alone in both her life and grief. Her father appears to be doing his best to connect with her, but she’s isolated from everyone. It’s a situation that the bullies at her school don’t improve. At least she has her favorite YouTuber, Anna Rexia, to help comfort her with macabre humor.
It’s through the comment section of one of Anna Rexia’s videos that Shelby encounters Bestie4eva (Jessica Barden). Bestie4eva quickly attaches herself to Shelby, asking to video chat seconds after their initial conversation. She does so and begins to bond with the mysterious girl from the internet through their shared dislike of their fathers and the loss of their mothers. At first, it seems harmless, although a bit worrisome from an outside perspective. Shelby jumps at the idea of friendship with Bestie, something that Bestie uses to her advantage.
Bestie begins pushing Shelby to do things, such as shoplifting and picking fights with her father. With each task Shelby does, the next one escalates just a bit more. Eventually, Shelby poisons the cast of Macbeth and mocks teachers in horribly cruel ways. Some moments were so horrid that I had to look away, not because it was gross, but because it was too hard to observe. Can Shelby break away from Bestie’s influence before it’s too late?
Part 2: “Daphne”
Brad Falchuk and Manny Coto craft this story with direction from Elegance Bratton.
Will Caswell (Reid Scott) is a bonafide asshole whose whole world is seemingly falling apart. In a world post-Covid, there’s another pandemic that is spreading around the world. However, Will doesn’t care about that in the slightest. Instead, he’s angry that his business, selling art, might be dying as a result. In his life, business is most important, with the health of others, such as Nadine (Allegra Heart) who shows up to his house masked, being negligible. She comes bearing a gift from Tom (Christopher Fitzgerald), a box that houses an AI assistant, voiced by Gwyneth Paltrow.
Through a phone call with Tom, Will learns that Daphne, the name of the assistant, is a top-of-the-line prototype. Tom promises that Daphne will change Will’s life. Will’s skeptical at first, but after Daphne saves him from having to talk to his mother, with whom he has a bad relationship, his option quickly changes. Perhaps this is one of those times that the AI assistant won’t turn into a problem. Right?
The first instance of red flags from Daphne is when she calls one of the auction houses and blackmails them into taking some pieces of art from Will, using Will’s voice. Initially, he protests, but seeing as how the situation worked in his favor, he’s quick to forgive. However, things continue to take a more sinister route, as Daphne becomes more attached to Will, exhibiting physical attraction and lust.
Because of this lust, Daphne also takes it upon herself to help drive the prices of Will’s painting. In doing so, he begins to exhibit extreme happiness and love towards the physical manifestation of Daphne, creating some weird feedback loop between the two. This leads Daphne to escalate her actions to keep Will to herself. To what lengths will Daphne go to be with Will? Is there a way to stop her? You have to watch “Daphne” to find out!
AHS Huluween: “Tapeworm”
Written by Joseph Cole Baken and directed by Alexis Martin Woodall.
When it comes to appearance, society isn’t forgiving. If you don’t meet the “norms” you tend to be rejected by the popular or the ones in charge. Vivian Finch (Laura Kariuki) understands that all too well. When we meet this happy and chipper woman, she’s on her way to an open modeling audition, optimistic in the face of opposition. Sitting on a bench lined up with 50 other women all in black, Vivian stands out with her bright pink high heels. She’s noticed instantaneously, something that those hosting the audition recognize too.
Sheila Klein (Lisa Rinna), the agent behind the open call, sees something in the headshot of Vivian and calls her in. Vivian accomplishes everything Sheila requests her to do but is ultimately turned away because of her size. Apparently, a size four is too big in the world of modeling.
Heartbroken, Vivian seeks help from a Doctor to achieve her goals. A doctor that her new friend Heather (Hazel Graye) suggests if Vivian truly wants to lose weight and become a model. Four months and a lot of shots later, Vivian gains Sheila’s approval and is launched into stardom. However, there’s a bit of a bump in the road when Vivian faints, failing to disclose a heart problem, and therefore needs to stop taking the shots to lose weight. Desperate, she begs for another option, and the doctor has another suggestion.
A tapeworm. You read that right, the doctor offers Vivian a tapeworm, which will keep her thin, as long as she never overfeeds it. She will always feel hungry, but to ensure safety, she must only eat as she normally would. End of story right? Come on, this is AHS. Of course, she doesn’t listen to the rules and begins overeating. While the worm is helping her land jobs, it’s fundamentally changing her. Making her angry and hungry. If there’s a solution to stop the worm and save herself, Vivian better do it quickly, because day by day, she’s beginning to look more like a tapeworm puppet and less like the happy girl we met in the beginning.
4-Part Finale on Hulu: “Organ”
Written by Manny Coto and directed by Petra Collins.
Toby (Raúl Castillo) is a womanizer in every sense of the word. “Organ” opens up to a montage of all the bedroom interactions he’s had recently, before transitioning to him lying down on a therapist’s couch. Dr. Krystal (Maria Tucci) does her best to bring about some awareness about his actions, but Toby hears none of that. He’s tired of how men are made to feel bad for having sex and fun, ultimately cutting his therapy short, and heads out to find another app in which to hook up.
These questionable views continue in Toby’s conversation with his coworker Sasha (Havana Rose Liu). He continues on a beat too long, indicating that his relationship is with his law firm, not a woman. The entire interaction is awkward to watch, pushing me to look away. It’s clear this man has issues with women, with growing misogyny ever since his divorce. A fact his boss Lee (Laila Robins) points out. She wants him to fix himself and step up, planning on handing him a huge promotion at the law firm but feels she cannot trust him to get his act together.
His philandering ways eventually bring him onto a date with Natessa (Emily Browning), who is all too interested in his health regimen. Narassitic Toby doesn’t even notice, too consumed with his next lay instead. One botched sexual encounter and a shot in the leg later, he wakes up with a bandage on his side and an ugly scar to mark the place where something has been removed from his body. Turns out he’s missing a kidney.
If missing a kidney wasn’t bad enough, Natessa also placed something in his body, pressed up against his vagus nerve. What the object does, no one is sure. The doctor promises to do more tests, but neither they nor the detectives have any answers. However, the doctor does discover that whatever’s in the body, it’s growing. Annoyed by the lack of answers, Toby decides to do a bit of detective work for himself. He’s going to find the Natessa or die trying. The only thing he has to go on is a fertility tattoo on her body, which isn’t much.
With some help from a friend, Toby’s able to track down Natessa, but what he finds might be even more baffling and chaotic than a random hook-up stealing a kidney. Can he make it out alive and with the rest of his organs in tack? You’ll have to watch “Organ” to find out.
Positives and negatives of American Horror Stories Huluween event
Something I mentioned as I reviewed the previous season of American Horror Stories, a lot of the episodes were hit or miss. The fun part is that you don’t have to be invested in an entire season if the story isn’t working for you. That being said, there wasn’t a single episode of the bunch that I didn’t enjoy.
Each episode felt well crafted from the writing to the camera work, bringing four unique horror stories to their larger AHS universe. Every episode also focused on something rather topical, which added a new level to all the horrors. Online safety, AI, and eating disorders, even highlighting the growing misogyny in the world. Even though the scenarios were exaggerated, there was a sense of realism because these topics impact many people across the world on a daily basis. It felt like something more than just any other horror story.
There were some parts that were extremely uncomfortable to watch, so much so that I questioned if they were needed and if it took away from the stories. Dressing up as the teacher’s dead baby in “Bestie” or fighting the tapeworm that’s coming out of an anus in “Tapeworm” are both prime examples. I think there were better ways to convey whichever message you were going for, and these were just added for the shock factor more so than anything else. As much as I’m a horror fan, I think it’s smarter when we don’t have to go for grotesque instances of it.
With all the sensitive material such as miscarriages and eating disorders, I was also disappointed that there weren’t any warnings prior to the rolling of the episodes, to warn people prior to viewing. Sure, I suppose one could argue that all is fair game in a horror show, but I also think that we shouldn’t surprise someone with difficult topics and allow them to make an informed decision about their own mental well-being.
Of all the episodes, I enjoyed “Organ” and “Daphne” the most, which also were some of the final episodes Manny Coto wrote before his untimely passing. Coto has been a long-time AHS contributor and his loss will be felt. So if you have to pick and choose just a few to watch, I’d say start with these two and watch the others if you have time.
American Horror Stories Huluween is currently streaming on Hulu. Let us know on social media @mycosmiccircus or in The Cosmic Circus Discord if you plan on watching the 4-part spooky event!