This review of Stan Against Evil contains spoilers.
Stan Against Evil Season 3 Episode 6
“But TV shows aren’t real…”
“Anything is possible with love!”
Vampires, especially sexy teen vampires, are a highly played out area of horror. It feels like Stan Against Evil is turning to this trope after it’s already been out of fashion for a few years, but whether or not the subject matter is popular or not is irrelevant here. What’s important is if Stan Against Evil can take this topic and find a creative spin on it and “Vampire Creek” struggles in that respect. Gothic horror (and comedy, for that matter) is always difficult to sell and while “Vampire Creek,” doesn’t completely fail, it also doesn’t bring anything fresh to the table.
Stan Against Evil’s conduit for its sexy vampires is “Vampire Creek,” a popular show about supernatural teens and genitals, essentially what would happen if Dawson’s Creek and Twilight had a baby. Denise’s heavy love for writing slash fiction results in her winning a coveted prop from the television show. Denise may be too lost in excitement to question her new prized possession, but something seems amiss when the show’s own star delivers the item and displays considerably sinister tendencies.
The storylines and convoluted romances from “Vampire Creek” begin to invade and inform Denise’s perception of her relationship with Kevin. They find themselves at a crossroads when their interests conflict and Denise interprets that as Kevin not taking her seriously enough. It’s a rather tenuous means for conflict between the two of them (especially since presumably Denise didn’t just start to watch “Vampire Creek”), but it’s necessary that she’s ambivalent towards Kevin when she gets transported to Zach’s (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) world within “Vampire Creek.” That’s right, that special prop that Denise has gained under mysterious circumstances just so happens to be a magic mirror that operates as a gateway to enter the world of her favorite television show.
Inside of this mirror world, Zach woos Denise and basically promises her the romantic life of fantasy that she’s always tried to lose herself in but has never been able to find. Denise is quite enamored with Zach and his alluring promises, but the big caveat here is that Denise must become a vampire to stay in this world and attend the Vampire Creek junior prom with Zach. Of course, this commitment assures that Denise will be forever trapped in this false reality. Denise’s trepidation over this choice feels a little drawn out, especially since she thinks she’s lost in a dream and not actually in an alternate reality. Nevertheless, Denise’s decision to Zach becomes the episode’s entire focus.
Surprisingly, Stan actually notices that his daughter is missing. He calls in Evie for help, but it’s only a matter of time until she also gets pulled into Denise’s tailored reality. The episode takes an interesting turn here when Zach transforms Evie into a vampire, rather than Denise. Zach also reveals that this faux reality is only concerned about Denise. Hundreds of others can get turned into vampires, but she’s the only one that really matters. As Denise struggles to make her decision, vampire Evie moans in the background and berates Denise for the situation that she’s found herself in. in doing so, Denise gets a taste of the cattier side of “Vampire Creek” and sees that this world isn’t just full of gothic romance. I wish that the episode played into this dynamic a little stronger, but it’s enjoyable to momentarily see Evie and Denise become characters in this schlocky romance.
When Evie gets spirited away, Stan reluctantly calls in Leon for help and frankly I could have watched an entire episode of these two troubleshoot this supernatural problem. The two don’t get to bounce off of each other nearly enough and their interactions through the second half of the episode are a joy. Unfortunately they don’t last long enough and Stan soon finds himself in the world of “Vampire Creek,” too.
Leon’s struggles with the magic mirror are a little undercooked. It becomes rather repetitive that he continually allows more people to fall into the mirror through the same means and completely fails to stop its damage. That being said, this display is also a testament to Leon’s exceedingly oblivious character. Or maybe this incompetence really was all a part of his plan.
The episode’s final act takes the entire cast, plus Zach, to the Vampire Creek junior prom and Denise is forced to make the decision between an honest, yet flawed relationship with Kevin, or to live in this fantasy with Zach. “Vampire Creek” subscribes to the predictable plot points that typically conclude a teen rom-com, but the episode does have some fun with how it allows its cast to get bit and become vampires, even if it’s only briefly.
Mintz-Plasse works surprisingly well as the heartthrob teen vampire, Zach. It’s a casting choice that shouldn’t exactly work, but Mintz-Plasse tones up the campiness of the role and the moments where Zach becomes more desperate and whiny really connect. He’s a great subversion of the usual sexy vampire.
“Vampire Creek” loses some tension since it never really feels like Denise will commit to the “Vampire Creek” universe and abandon reality. Additionally, all of the jokes that stem from the actual vampire plot don’t feel original (although it’s great to see Evie gets embarrassingly drunk on blood punch at the junior prom), but it’s the weirder non-sequiturs throughout the installment that shine, like Leon’s magazines or basically anything that Kevin says. Overall this may feel like a more disposable episode of Stan Against Evil, but in the end it really reinforces the weird relationship between Denise and Kevin, which will hopefully only grow stronger in the future. It’s admirable to see the series tackle something as mainstream as romantic vampire fiction, but it continues to look like Stan Against Evil finds greater success when it takes aim at the weirder niches of horror.
Now, to get back to my Stan x Leon slash fiction story, “Stan Against Leon…”
Daniel Kurland is a published writer, comedian, and critic whose work can be read on Den of Geek, Vulture, Bloody Disgusting, and ScreenRant. Daniel knows that the owls are not what they seem, that Psycho II is better than the original, and he’s always game to discuss Space Dandy. His perma-neurotic thought process can be followed at @DanielKurlansky.