Usually, when people ask me what my favorite short horror film from Crypt TV is, I quickly point to 2016’s The Birch. Suspenseful, full of vengeance, all-too-relatable with the bully scenario, and delivering memorable creature design, it is easily a favorite for horror fans. It also opened up the door for potential exploration of the titular monster. That’s why when it was revealed that Crypt TV was expanding on the monster in a series on Facebook Watch, it made a lot of sense. Now, roughly two years after the first season wrapped with a cliffhanger, the team is back with Season 2 of THE BIRCH. Full disclosure, but this review is based on the first five episodes of the new season. As such, this will be as spoiler-free as possible.
In the second season of Crypt TV’s THE BIRCH, we follow the new character Rory (Jordyn DiNatale), who craves attention and acceptance a year after her father’s death. Her mother is unhelpful, criticizing her at every turn and, for this awkward, lonely, love-starved teenager, she is an easy target for bullies. Especially once an awkward picture goes viral. Things come to a head one night and, not knowing where to turn to and channeling her would-be, mysteriously disappeared idol Evie Grayson, she calls upon the woodland tree monster, the Birch. However, as is revealed at the end of the first episode, Evie is still around and she’ll be damned if Rory follows her in her footsteps.
The new season picks up about a year after the first season ended. From the episodes provided, the events of season one are referenced a fair amount, with plenty of references back to the character of Evie Grayson (Xaria Dotson). The best advice that I could give before diving straight into this second season would be to binge-watch the first season, which is available here. Without the binge-fest, at first viewing of the first five episodes, the second season doesn’t appear to be designed to make it easy for first-time viewers to catch up. And, due to all the groundwork laid in the first season, there is a lot that will be missed or will come across as random or a plothole for the new viewer. Fortunately, all episodes of both seasons are relatively short and easy to consume, which would remedy this problem.
The one thing that Crypt TV has excelled at with this series is in its young talent. Last season, Xaria Dotson took us for a journey with her character, Evie’s, arc in her performance. When we were left at the end of the season not knowing Evie’s fate, it was difficult not to be concerned. And that is a testament to both Dotson’s performance and to the writing. Diving into this second season, we are getting a chance to see Evie navigate redemption, but also see her character contrasted against Rory, who seems destined for the same initial fate as Evie. Having not seen all of the episodes so far, it will be interesting to see how both characters’ arcs unwind.
As of right now, I can cautiously say that the second season of THE BIRCH appears to flow well into the first. However, it can’t be jumped into without taking into account the first season’s groundwork. This is not a standalone season by any means. While there are new characters – both leading and supporting – the casting department knows how to pick them. And, so far, director John Ross and screenwriter Casey Modderno have a good handle on the overall flow of the transition between seasons. In terms of how the rest of the series will pan out? You’ll just have to watch the remaining episodes to find out what happens next.
The first two episodes of THE BIRCH are now available on Facebook Watch. The series will drop episodes weekly on Fridays at 3 pm PT / 6 pm ET with the finale on May 28, 2021. All episodes will be available globally on Facebook Watch on THE BIRCH and Crypt Monsters pages.
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