[Anthology Review] 50 States of Fright Presents “Ball of Twine”

When I first heard that director Sam Raimi was involved in making a horror anthology series, I was pretty stoked. I mean, come on!… Evil Dead? Drag Me to Hell? Heck, I’ll even throw in some of his Ghost House pictures movies he’s produced. Well, the time has come and the show has arrived on Quibi. 50 States of Fright is a simple idea centered on folklore in which each episode takes place in a different state. Shannon McGrew covered the first episode (split into 3 parts) called The Golden Arm (taking place in Michigan). Today I’ll be reviewing the next segment, BALL OF TWINE, which takes place in Kansas and also is split into three parts. I don’t understand why it’s broken up into different segment but that’s okay.

This episode centers around a mom and daughter played by Ming-Na Wen & Thailey Roberge, respectively, as they go on a road trip to live in another state. The mother decides to stop by America’s Biggest Ball of Twine to take her daughter, Amelia, for a little entertainment break from driving. When they arrive, they’re greeted by Sheriff Laughton (Karen Allen). While her mom is speaking with the Sheriff, Amelia walks away and enters the building that’s holding the ball of twine. What she doesn’t know is that the ball of twine has something waiting inside for her. To her horror, the twine sucks her in and not too long after, her mother walks into the building to try and find her. When she can’t locate Amelia, she begins to freak out and askes the Sheriff for help.

Thailey Roberge in 50 States of Fright’s BALL OF TWINE

What comes after, in the last two segments, is the mother fighting to get her daughter back. I won’t exactly tell you what happens as it’s better if you check out the episode for yourself. That said, when you put Sam Raimi and horror anthology in the same sentence, you’d expect a winning combination. Well, I’m sad to say that I was hoping for more scares and tense moments than what we were given. The acting is perfectly fine and Yoko Okumura, who directed this episode, did a good job as well, but unfortunately, the script, written by Mae Catt (Marvel Rising, Young Justice) is a little bit weak. If this was an hour-long show, I think the writer could have had more wiggle room for scares and drama.

The whole thing about Quibi shows is that they’re 10 minutes or less per segment. The worst thing about this app is not the show itself but the option to watch the show vertically on your phone. I urge all of you that watch anything on Quibi to NEVER EVER WATCH VERTICALLY! It’s the pan and scan of this generation. If you young readers don’t know what pan and scan are – google it! Thankfully, you can watch this, and any show on Quibi, horizontally, the way it should be watched.

Karen Allen in 50 States of Fright’s BALL OF TWINE

Ultimately, BALL OF TWINE is a good idea that unfortunately fails to succeed mainly due to the time constraint, as this episode is no longer than 16 minutes total. I hope in later seasons, if Quibi lasts more than 6 months, they can go the route of longer episodes for more scares and tensions so as to flesh out the stories. If so, it could be this decade’s Tales from the Darkside. BALL OF TWINE is now available to view on the Quibi mobile app and for those interested in downloading it, you can get a 90-day free trial as long as you sign-up before April 30.

John Duarte
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