Two Sentence Horror Stories is an anthology inspired by the social media fan fiction challenge of creating, as the title says, a horror story in two sentences. The series brings eight tales of horror and haunting informed by our digital age. Horror anthologies have long been one of the best ways to bring in new fans to the genre. With many in my generation coming into a love of horror through Are You Afraid of the Dark and younger fans coming in with the Canadian young adult anthology Creeped Out, Two Sentence Horror Stories fills the scary stories gap for an older demographic.
Created by writer/director/producer Vera Miao, each standalone episode of Two Sentence Horror Stories promises to tap into the expansive world of horror’s subgenres. It aims to tell tales that tap into the fears of our generation, connected more than ever but detached all the same. With the promise to tackle the social issues of the day, Two Sentence Horror Stories is refreshing as a fan of the genre.
In episode one, “Gentleman,” directed by Natalia Iyudin and written by C.S. McMullen, we see the fears of a single mom Hana (Nicole Kang) when online dating goes south. For a thirty-minute episode, there is a lot to unpack. Like any good anthology short, it has three acts. Yet, it still manages to embody the just two sentences that originally brought the story to life.
While the notion of an ideal family is front and center, we see it take different forms. With Ken (Jim Parrack), he is a proud member of the cult of domesticity. To him, a woman is a mother and as a mother, she must stay at home, breastfeed, and fulfill her duties as he sees fit. But with Hana, we explore a woman looking to complete her family through technology, whether that’s through online dating.
The horror here lies in bad romance, ideas of gender, and ultimately, the home invasion subgenre. Surprisingly, even with such a short run time, the creative team is able to tell a complete story – one that you want to go deeper into yet feels whole all the same. This is driven not only by the writing but by Kang’s performance. You can feel her emotion – her love, fear, and ultimately, her determination through the screen. Having also watched her in Netflix’s You, Kang deserves to be in more horror work. She has the range and knows how to build empathy with the audience.
As Ken, Parrack is terrifying. He’s predatory and the worst of what you expect from dating online. Controlling men have had a long tenure in the genre and Parrack plays his role to perfection. That said, there is an emotional disconnect between him and the actresses on screen. While this feels intentional, it also makes Ken easy to spot as a predator right away, not really allowing for a buildup in the first two acts of the episode that revolve around him. Given his previous work in True Blood, he feels underutilized. I can’t fault his performance too much though since Kang steals the show.
“Gentleman” reminds you to learn more about a person before going home with them and may have a few people swiping left.
Kate is co-founder, EIC, and CCO of BWT. She’s also a Certified Rotten Tomatoes Critic, host, and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho? and Did You Have To?. She also manages all PR relationships for comics, manga, film, TV, and anime. She has an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies focusing on how pop culture impacts society.