Trigger Warning: Rape and Sexual Assault
The new horror anthology series Two Sentence Horror Stories, currently airing Thursdays on the CW, is bringing to life the viral fan fiction two-sentence horror stories that made the rounds on social media. In the first episode, the series leaned into the home invasion subgenre and used the idea of family to bring viewers into the darkness. Now, in episode two, “Squirm,” the episode’s writer and director Vera Miao tackles the fear of workplace sexual abuse, the dangers of drinking at an office Christmas party, and turns a real fear for many women into a supernatural shocker.
Sexual assault is not new in the genre, but it is rarely handled carefully, with directors often aiming towards exploitation and visual violence. The rape kit scene in this episode is hard to watch. It’s disorienting, for us, and for our lead character, Keisha (Tara Pacheco). The social horror that “Squirm” lives in is uncomfortable, it is real, and it is palpable.
If you don’t know what social horror is, it’s a subgenre of horror that uses augmented moments of societal oppression to move a story and present not only commentary but an empathic link between the viewer and the marginalized in the film. As a woman, watching “Squirm” is rough, to say the least. Not only is Keisha violated by the potential sexual assault, but she is also torn apart by the fact that she doesn’t know what happened while she was passed out drunk. As her violator torments her, she begins to lose herself. Forced to go to work, scared of what she has been told is inside her, the episode unravels painfully slow, making 30-minutes seem like an hour as she is forced to move through her life like nothing happened while she’s being tormented.
As much as the horror of the episode lies in the use of stalker tactics and body horror moments involving worms, the fear you feel as a viewer is driven by her pain. I didn’t expect to see this kind of societal analysis in Two Sentence Horror Stories. Like Keisha, you’re in the dark, you’re squirming in your seat with fear, and you feel the doom linger as her situation gets more and more hopeless. The monster here is a man in authority and like many women in the workplace, I was terrified.
If you can make it through to the fourth act of “Squirm” you’ll be cheering and you’ll be moved by the weight that this single 30-minute episode of television can bring. The promise of Two Sentence Horror Stories was to encompass the diverse stories and subgenres of horror, and in episode two, we’re given a dive into a blend of body and social horror that excels in both areas. The reality of an abusive man paired with the reality of skin-crawling oddities has solidified Two Sentence Horror Stories as a must-watch for horror fans.
While “Squirm” needs to come with a trigger warning before it, it’s horror at its finest – tackling the things we fear and seeking revenge for it.
Two Sentence Horror Stories airs Thursdays on the CW at 9 pm ET/PT.
Photos Compliments of Stage 13/The CW
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.