The advancement of the internet has not only offered users access to terrifying tales like never before, but also inspires creators to put their imagination to work, as the interconnected nature of the world wide web can get those stories in front of the eyes of billions with a few clicks of a mouse. One of the more interesting ways in which writers have been demonstrating their storytelling skills is with "two-sentence horror stories," which force writers to tell a creepy anecdote with minimal words. This formula has resulted in an incredibly engaging series on The CW Two Sentence Horror Stories, which makes for an effective, bite-sized anthology show that will keep you coming back for more, even if all of the installments aren't entirely fulfilling.
Each entry into the series follows the same structure, delivering audiences an establishing sentence, a story unfolding, and the episode concluding with the second sentence. Whether it be a stalker hoping to expand his family by any means necessary or discovering you might be host to a terrifying parasite, each episode offers audiences a new experience, all of which end with the surprising reveal of the second sentence.
Two-sentence horror stories took off all across social media, as their concise nature even allowed them to invade Twitter, a platform that emphasizes brevity. The most successful stories offered readers an unexpected payoff to an already creepy premise, with the experience of reading them made all the more enjoyable by the short amount of time needed to enjoy them. When compared to various other horror series, Two Sentence Horror Stories is a fully organic representation of the source material, as each episode is roughly 22 minutes, allowing audiences with no prior knowledge of the series to hop in and enjoy a terrifying tale. Additionally, the story of each episode explores a relatively literal exploration of the setup, only for the narrative to go off the rails in an unexpected direction, evoking the spirit of morality stories that we've seen in series like The Twilight Zone or Tales from the Crypt.
While only 22-minutes long, each episode still feels like it's milking the concept for too long. The episodes are easily digestible and will keep the audience invested until the final reveal, but one of the joys of two-sentence horror stories on the internet is how quickly you can read dozens of them in a short amount of time. As is the case with all anthology TV series or movies, the overall experience ends up breaking down into the best and worst entries into the property. Were we to have gotten multiple, shorter stories each episode, it would have more accurately reflected the experience of enjoying the short stories online, while also alleviating the inherent pressure of crafting a premise, an unexpected story, and then a surprising conclusion with only two sentences of inspiration.
Almost to a refreshing capacity, Two Sentence Horror Stories isn't trying to reinvent the world of horror, instead delivering viewers a variety of tropes that have been explored countless times, with its storytelling structure being the most unique component. Another enjoyable element of the series is, coming from The CW, the tone feels very PG-13, emphasizing clever twists or suspense above gore and violence. Rather than feeling like American Horror Story, it feels more in the spirit of Are You Afraid of the Dark? or Goosebumps, yet with more mature subject matter. The drawback to that tone is that the production value of each episode feels similar to a TV series from the '90s, despite the stories themselves feeling far more contemporary.
Two Sentence Horror Stories won't be or everyone, but its effective formula will keep you entertained at least long enough to learn the reveal, even if you're never full frightened as the tale unfolds. The series will likely also appeal to a younger horror fan in your life who wants to explore the genre without fully being prepared for R-rated endeavors. For better or worse, Two Sentence Horror Stories will remind viewers that anyone is capable of creating such stories, so long as they can think outside the box, hopefully inspiring even more storytellers to concoct a creepy tale of their own.
Rating: 3 out of 5
Two Sentence Horror Stories premieres on The CW on August 8th.