Earlier this week, horror wunderkind Adam Green screened the first and fourth episodes of his new TV series “Holliston” at the University of Southern California, ahead of its official premiere on April 3.
In 2006, Adam Green burst onto the horror scene with “Hatchet,” a popular horror film in the same vein of ‘80s “slasher” films. Green followed his entry into the “slasher” genre with the psychological horror film “Spiral” (2007) and the acclaimed survival-horror film “Frozen” (2010).
Never one to tread the same ground twice, Green’s latest project is quite the departure from anything Green has done before. Equal measures sitcom and horror comedy, “Holliston” is a TV show unlike any other.
The comedy series follows the lives of two aspiring horror filmmakers, Adam (Adam Green) and Joe (fellow real-life horror filmmaker, Joe Lynch), as they attempt to finance and produce their first horror film in their hometown of Holliston, Massachusetts.
The show has been described as “The Big Bang Theory” meets “The Evil Dead 2,” and I would say this is a fairly accurate description. Based on the episodes screened that night, the series seems to draw from the same “storytelling well” as other sitcoms do. In the first episode, Adam hires a hooker to be his girlfriend in a misguided attempt to show his childhood sweetheart, Corri (Brokedown Cadillac singer Corri English), that his life has improved since their last encounter. In the fourth episode, Adam and Joe must deal with a visitor who overstays his welcome at their apartment.
Thankfully, even when the show treads into familiar sitcom territory, the plotlines feel fresh thanks to the show’s quirkier and darker approach. Who would’ve thought horror fandom could provide such interesting fodder for a weekly sitcom?
Of the two episodes screened, the fourth episode is the funnier of the two and considering the show’s genre, this isn’t too surprising. After all, most sitcoms tend to need a few episodes to find their footing.
However, it is not so much that the show found its footing as it was that the audience became better oriented with the show’s style and brand of humor. Initially, the combination of sitcom and horror elements is jarring, but once you get a feel for the show, its more bizarre aspects become a lot easier to digest.
For this reason, subsequent episodes will likely fare better as the audience becomes more accustomed to the show’s oddities — and oddities they are! The show features appearances by an animatronic, Down syndrome-suffering cat, a demonic invisible friend and the frequent mutilation of various cast members.
As the writer, director and star of every episode, one might worry Adam Green is stretching himself thin. Remarkably, Green seems to be up to the challenge and, based on these two episodes, is succeeding admirably.
Playing exaggerated versions of themselves, Green and Lynch manage to be both endearing and funny. Their real-life friendship translates well to the screen and their dynamic is easily one of the show’s highlights.
Far more noteworthy, however, are their female counterparts. Shedding her country singer image, Corri English is perfect as Adam’s childhood sweetheart and love interest. In English’s capable hands, Corri is more than just the generic Girl-Next-Door archetype that so many sitcom love interests are reduced to. However, it’s Laura Ortiz, Joe’s delightful girlfriend, who acts as the show’s resident scene-stealer. Considering her biggest role prior to this was a mutant in Alexandre Aja’s “The Hills Have Eyes,” Ortiz is a real find with great comedic timing.
Additionally, the series features a slew of horror vets as guest stars, with everyone from Tony Todd to John Landis scheduled to make appearances in the show’s first season. Horror fan culture is often overlooked by mainstream society, even as depictions of other fan cultures have become increasingly popular. So it’s nice to see horror fandom get some much-needed attention in “Holliston.”
The show is certainly not for everybody. Its jokes are neither highbrow nor politically correct, but I can’t help but find “Holliston” charming and witty. To get the full meaning of the gags the show employs, it helps to be well versed in horror cinema, but it is by no means a prerequisite for enjoying the show.
Bizarre and oddly charming, “Holliston” is Green’s most daring work yet. “Holliston” airs on FEARnet on Tuesdays at 10:30 p.m.