But what’s Quibi?
This is the most frequently asked question about Quibi since the announcement of the new streaming service, and many people are still asking the same question a few weeks after the launch of the service. In fact, the name Quibi is an abbreviation for Fast Bites, and the content provided by Quibi is really fast and small in size. Not only does the service not offer movies and television shows, but it’s also a kind of hybrid of movie content, television show-like content and YouTube video content. Each episode of Quibi’s original content seems to last no more than nine minutes and no less than a few minutes, and his so-called films in the chapters are divided into several such episodes.
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Maybe it’s because it’s a bit difficult to explain what Quibi doesn’t even seem to understand – although at the time of writing at least 3 million people signed up for a free 90-day trial – or maybe it’s because Quibi is (for the time being at least) a streaming service only accessible via mobile phone. It seems that this approach will change in the future, but for now Quibi is a smart streaming service for mobile phones only, offering small content that people don’t really like. Not that my own social media channels reflect a general consensus, but let’s say most of my channels are pretty sure that Quibi will fail. And a lot of people, well, seem very excited about that outcome.
In addition to his films in chapters, Quibi also offers high-quality, TV-like programs, and here are 50 states of fear. The 50 States from Gunpowder & Sky’s ALTER is an anthological horror series created by Sam Reimi, each episode of which is divided into three parts. Each episode, which lasts no longer than 25 minutes, is based on an urban legend related to a particular disorder, in order to bring the viewer further into the horrors that are hiding just below the surface. And first, the Golden Hand of Michigan, directed by Sam Raimy himself.
With a free trial and the promise of a new horror story written by Sam Reimi, downloading Quibi to my phone made no sense. Finally, The Golden Hand is Raimi’s return to horror after five years of drought for the director who followed The Ash against the Wicked Dead and the pilot episode in 2015. And while Golden Hand features Rachel Brosnaan and Travis Fimmel, I don’t really see Sam Reimi in Total Reimi, but he does see him in Enough Reimi to make this conversation a must for all Reimi fans.
Does that sound familiar after the terrible accident that hit his arm? – Heather Brosnahana disguised as a fake golden hand – does that sound familiar? – that was made by her husband Dave, but the hand-made hand eventually causes side effects that lead to death. As anyone who has ever heard this story knows, Heather finally returns from the grave in search of the golden hand that was taken from her after her death. The Golden Hand is a classic urban legend in the style of The Evil Dead, and is an entertaining prelude to Quibi’s 50 states of horror.
At least Raimi fully understands the similarity between folklore and the frankness of the horror that endangered him. And he’s leaning back for his 50-state episode.
But the second episode is even better. The Kansas Twine Ball, directed by Yoko Okumura, features the mother (Ming Na Wen) and daughter who stop to watch the world’s biggest string ball. When her daughter has disappeared, absorbed by the crystal ball, her mother won’t do anything to get her back. Inspired by a real tourist attraction of Kansas, the string takes a page from the game House of Wax Figures, which tells us that citizens – including Karen Allen as sheriff – are not what they seem.
I understand that many people reading this article probably haven’t seen 50 states of anxiety yet, so I won’t ruin this article too much. But the Ball of Rope goes to some pretty scary and frankly crazy places once the true nature of the city is revealed. It is a kind of horror film, which can easily be expanded and converted into a full-length film about the killer, because he is fully formed and quite original. At the time of writing, this is the best example of how a gift from 50 states can find its way to horror fans. The scenario of May Katt and Yoko Okumura essentially writes its own state horror story, and I promise you you’ll never look at the big balls of the string the same way again.
Another Okumura horror, please.
The third episode is the shortest so far, the Oregon series by Ryan Spindell Scared Stiff. After only 13 minutes in two parts, James Ranson (IT: Chapter 2) becomes a world-class taxidermist who agrees to work on restoring the terrible remains of a mysterious creature. It turns out the creature is Bigfoot. To be precise, it’s actually a Bigfoot.
Scared Stiff presents a practical monster in costume, which is one of the coolest Bigfoot shows I’ve ever seen on screen. It’s a little magic trick, cute and armed, which gives it a fairytale look from the cryptic feeling. It’s James Ranson versus Yeti, and I’m not sure there’s any love in that. We haven’t seen many quality Bigfoot horrors in years, and Scared Stiff scratched that particular itch. He’s playful in the sense that he assumes Sam Reimi is going to touch him, and there’s a gnarly murder that the show has seen so far.
But the filthiest monster appears on the cloudy grey island of Minnesota, three blocks away from Brian Netto and Adam Schindler (Delivery: The Beast Within, Intruders, Violators). Grey Cloud Island, starring Asa Butterfield, tells the story of four fraternity recruits who have to sneak into the supposedly cursed forest to prove their worth, and end up being the target of a mysterious cult that keeps a young woman trapped deep in a scary forest. It is by far the most cinematic and ambitious story told so far in the 50-state format, polished and with its own deep mythology.
We don’t know exactly what’s going on in much of Grey Cloud Island, but the intrigue and the massacre is enough to get our attention. Why are these Viking style masked warriors so eager to kill this seemingly innocent woman? It turned out that the boys of the brotherhood were in the middle of an old legend they could never prepare for. Grey Cloud Island plays too shy to keep the climax in the final moments, which unfortunately has already been ruined by marketing material, but it’s a really cool story when everything is revealed. Even if you want more than that, in the end it will be the way it really is.
At the time of writing, Destino presented only the first part in Florida, but it is worth mentioning that the fairy tale on the tape, which tells the story of the policemen answering a strange call about a missing goat, was directed by Alejandro Brugge (Juan of the Dead, Puca lives!) and written by the witch duo Blair, Eduardo Sanchez and Gregg Hale. The upcoming episode was filmed by the duo Cam Daniel Goldhaber and Isa Mazzei, which proves once again that Quibi has called upon some of the best – both acknowledged and promising – horror talents in his first horror series. This Quibi-arena can be a great success because there is a certain proximity to the horror content to be watched on the phone – ideally at night in bed with the light off – which translates well into fear. It’s a bit like reading scary stories with a flashlight as the only light source, a centuries-old tradition that Quibi is modernising by 2020.
With Sam Raimy as your guide, 50 States of Fear offers a journey to the darkest corners of America that is worthwhile. I haven’t seen a bad episode yet, so it already has a more impressive track record than most other anthologies that have appeared in recent years. Remove the handset from the hook, turn off the light and start shipping.