UMU reviews the two-part season 2 opener of IFC’s “Stan Against Evil” – “Black Hat Society.”
“Black Hat Society Part 1 & Part 2”
Written by Dana Gould
Directed by Jack Bishop & Justin Nijm
*Spoilers are contained within.*
Stan Against Evil, IFC’s horror/comedy in the vein of Ash vs Evil Dead and the classic Universal Monsters films, returns on Wednesday, November 1st. Our friends at IFC presented us with a look at the 2-part season two opener, ahead of its premiere, and before we take a look at “Black Hat Society” Part 1 and Part 2, here is the trailer you could view below:
IFC’s Stan Against Evil is witty, sardonic, and an expert send up of everything we love about the horror genre, particularly the best kind – the one with the monsters. I’ve been a fan of Stan Against Evil since last year’s New York Comic Con and I’ve been eagerly awaiting the opportunity to talk more about this series here on Universal Monsters Universe. The show was created by Dana Gould, a big Universal Monsters fan, and stars two of the very best working today – John C. McGinley and Janet Varney.
Season 2 of Stan Against Evil begins with a 2-part episode, “Black Hat Society,” written by Dana Gould. It picks up almost immediately where season 1 concluded – with a break in the time continuum that resulted in the disappearance of Willard’s Mill current sherif, Evie Barret (Janet Varney). Retired sheriff, Stan Miller (John C. McGinley), knows something doesn’t feel right and with a series of recurring nightmares of Evie, whom he doesn’t quite know who she is or how he knows her, goes on his own personal search to find her. One of the highlights of season 1 of Stan Against Evil was the interplay between Evie and Stan as McGinley and Varney have wonderful chemistry together. Their comedic timing is perfect and easily my favorite pairing on television. Because they are both so likable, when season 2 opens without them together, it makes the urgency and journey of finding Evie all the more interesting. It’s something akin to separating the characters of Wilbur and Chick in Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. They’re great on their own, but even better when together – and you really want to see them together, facing off against the monsters.
Stan encounters the “Black Hat Society,” described as “a coven of pure wiccans who did no harm” in Willard’s Mill during the 1600’s when Constable Eccles (Randall Newsome) burned 172 witches in the town. The Black Hat Society is Dana Gould at his writing best. Gould’s own character, the caretaker/gravedigger Kevin, sums up Willard’s Mill as a “place [that’s] full of ding-dongs doing all kinds of baloney,” and, well, he’s right. The Black Hat Society – a coven consisting of Lara Bouchard (Denise Boutte), Constance (Sofia Pavone), Judy (Susan Burke), and Cliff (Nick Armstrong) are pretty much a group a “ding-dongs.” Be it their bickering during coven meets or their complete irreverence, The Black Hat Society functions as a solid season 2 addition to the story, but also as a great introduction to newcomers just arriving in Willard’s Mill for Stan Against Evil‘s sophomore year on the IFC.
While the stakes, no pun intended, were important to season 1, season 2 has elevated them with a more dramatic touch. Stan, after saving Evie, learns from Constable Eccles that his daughter Constance and Evie are both occupying the same space in the current time continuum and that because only one could exist, one has to go back. In an almost Back to the Future like plot, Evie finds herself disappearing throughout Part 2 of “Black Hat Society” while Stan searches for a way to save her. John C. McGinley, a prolific actor in his own right – both comedic and dramatic – does some of his best work in “Black Hat Society Part 2.” His effortless way of moving from being a curmudgeon with callbacks to his time on Scrubs to just delivering a powerful performance is another reason why Stan Against Evil is quickly becoming a must watch show that delivers on all fronts. A scene to look out for is his scene with Sofia Pavone, the young actress playing the Constable’s daughter. It’s near the end of Part 2 and is an elevated mark in season two of Stan Against Evil.
Stan Against Evil is the perfect show to watch if you love horror, comedy, and monsters. While there’s an amazing amount of shows on right now that are well worth watching, I could not recommend Stan Against Evil enough. It’s light enough in a way that makes it more accessible to a wider audience, but it doesn’t betray it’s duty to preserve the spirit of the classic monster movies. The monster effects are even better and wilder in season 2, while being as grounded in reality as possible. With little to no CGI, Stan Against Evil continually amazes – from the more Universal Monsters like monsters, to a thing that’s straight out of The Thing, IFC’s Stan Against Evil does it well.
Season 2 welcomes returning stars John C. McGinley (Scrubs) as Stan Miller, the curmudgeonly retired police-sheriff, and Janet Varney (You’re The Worst) as Evie Barret, the current sheriff in Willard’s Mill determined to wipe out the demons that plague their quaint New England town. After Evie mysteriously vanished in the Season 1 finale, Stan must begrudgingly get off his couch again to solve the mystery of his sheriff’s time-travelling disappearance. Through thick and thin, the unlikely team continues to battle against the unleashing of wicked demons trying to take over Willard’s Mill, which happens to be built on the site of a massive 17th century witch burning.
Deborah Baker Jr. (The Great Indoors) and Nate Mooney (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) also return to co-star as Denise Miller, Stan’s absent-minded, do-good daughter, and Deputy Leon Drinkwater, Evie’s right hand man, respectively. Season 2 guest stars include Denise Boutte (Meet the Browns), Jeffrey Combs (Gotham), David Koechner (Anchorman), Patty McCormack (The Bad Seed), and Steven Ogg (The Walking Dead).
Stan Against Evil is created, written and executive produced by Dana Gould (The Simpsons, Parks and Recreation), with Tom Lassally (Silicon Valley) also serving as executive producer. RadicalMedia (What Happened, Miss Simone?, MARS) produces the series with Frank Scherma and Justin Wilkes executive producing. Star John C. McGinley also serves as a producer.
Season 2 premieres Wednesday, November 1 at 10PM on IFC with two back-to-back episodes. The 8-episode season will air weekly on Wednesdays, with two episodes airing consecutively at 10PM and 10:30PM. Stan Against Evil Season 1 is available to watch on Hulu, iTunes, Amazon, GooglePlay and XBox.
(Steven Biscotti – @reggiemantleIII)