This Stan Against Evil review contains spoilers.
Stan Against Evil Season 2 Episode 6
Stan Against Evil is always at its best when it sinks its teeth into a popular horror trope. Dana Gould and his staff of writers have a clear love and respect for the classics of the genre. Devil babies are a beloved staple of horror and this show takes the subject matter to some truly crazy places. Horror films such as the The Omen, Rosemary’s Baby, Children of the Damned, or even the more recent comedy-skewing, Little Evil, all have firm point of views and things that they want to say about children and the supernatural. It’s good to see that Stan Against Evil features a smart evolution of this trope rather than simply retread a bunch of older ideas on the topic. Usually the addition of a baby is a death sentence for comedy, but after “Hex Marks the Tot” you’ll wonder how it took Stan this long to cover demon children.
One of the best things about “Hex Marks the Tot” is that it’s a Denise episode. That’s not because Denise is the best character on the show, but rather she’s someone that’s in need of the same level of character development that Stan and Evie have enjoyed. This installment makes a lot of strides for Denise’s character while she struggles with babysitting a demon child that’s in possession of a magic rattle. That might seem like a ridiculous statement, but it’s just another Wednesday when it comes to Stan Against Evil.
Denise spends most of this episode looking after the suspicious baby, Aiden Braden (yes, that’s actually his name), which allows for her to get into a nice heart-to-heart with Evie on the topic of children. The two of them debate back and forth on whether having children is a positive thing or not. Clearly there’s no right answer here and the two fall back on their own separate prejudices. This moving discussion between Denise and Evie provides some grounded context to the tot-sized terror that eventually preys upon them. Usually the monsters on Stan Against Evil are just ridiculous boogeymen that don’t serve a larger purpose. It’s always nice when the monster of the week can prompt some actual character development and growth.
On that note, “Hex Marks the Tot” also gives a lot of attention to Kevin (Dana Gould), both in the context of a romantic interest for Denise as well as a yet another weirdo in Willard’s Mill. Kevin reveals that he’s a human guinea pig that was made by the government, with his unusual backstory providing him with some bizarre insight on Denise’s demon baby. Curiously, Kevin’s almost put in the spotlight more than Denise is here. No one believes Kevin’s rants on Aiden Braden, the demon baby, even when he learns that the demon feeds on affection. This makes Denise the perfect “host” for the demon and Kevin is therefore the demon’s biggest obstacle in getting nourishment. Kevin’s shift to hero is great and it’s refreshing to have someone else rise to the occasion in this episode. That being said, it still feels like Leon consistently gets the short end of the stick.
There are a lot of creative ideas and flashes of inspiration throughout this episode. Even the most basic of elements, like the episode’s de facto “Willard’s Mill flashback,” tries to go for something different. This time, the flashback is set in the 1980s rather than the 1880s. If Willard’s Mill has such a storied, sinister past, it makes sense that not every piece of evil from its past is from the 19th century. More variety in this sense would be a lot of fun for the show and the approach here is certainly a step in the right direction. Let’s see Willard’s Mill during the times of disco or McCarthyism, for example!
The episode’s final act leans into a riff on Alien that doesn’t exactly connect to the whole baby theme, but damn if it isn’t a lot of fun and provides some great visuals. It’s certainly an unexpected direction for the episode to embrace, but the fact that this installment doesn’t barrel towards its conclusion so quickly does the episode some favors. “Hex Marks the Tot” allows Denise, Stan, Evie, and everyone else enough time with these gross blanket cocoons that they appropriately sink in.
On that note, the blanket cocoons look fantastic but Aiden Braden, the demon baby, is the real showpiece of the episode. At times the demon infant looks pretty ridiculous, but when it works it’s absolutely shocking and disturbing as all hell. Stan Against Evil once again figures out how to do a lot with a tiny budget. The demonic baby and the werepony are the most effective monsters of the season so far.
“Hex Marks the Tot” is a solid episode of Stan Against Evil that plays with some traditional horror ideas while it filters it all through the show’s sardonic voice. The entry sometimes gets a little too silly for its own good, but it features great effects while attempting to fix some of the show’s bigger problems, like giving characters beyond Stan and Evie something to do. At the very least, this episode deserves to join the ranks of all the other successful demon baby stories out there. Aiden Braden is no Damien Thorne, but he’s the perfect guilty pleasure for afterwards.
Now who’s got tickets to see the 1980s classic, Space Knife?