South Park – A Nightmare On FaceTime

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It’s traditional for US comedy shows to have Halloween episodes, so this week’s episode of South Park riffs on The Shining (which is about to get a cinema re-release), and has Stan, Kyle, Cartman and Kenny trick or treating as the Avengers.

The episode begins with an ecstatic Randy coming home with champagne and presents for the family.  He tells everyone they’ve finally made it and they’re going to be rich…..because he’s just bought a Blockbusters video store.  He can’t believe he only had to pay $10,000 to get it, and despite his family’s pessimism, takes them out of town to the deserted (and surprisingly creepy) store.  As we’ve seen in the past, Randy is nothing if not enthusiastic when he gets his heart set on something, and he’s certain that people will come flooding back to the store, particularly with Halloween on the way.

Randy’s soon going mad though, seeing ghosts while sarcastically lauding someone (is it the store? God? Matt and Trey?) for being so original and haunting the building.  It’s a lot of fun to watch Randy’s transformation into Jack Nicholson’s Jack Torrance character, as he starts to become more dishevelled and talking to the ghosts.  There’s a great moment when Sharon is on the phone to a friend, and Randy is creepily stalking around in the background, disappearing down one aisle and re-appearing at the opposite side, although rather than being scared by him sneaking up behind her, she just wants to know what he wants.

But because he’s so determined to make a success of his new venture, Randy almost ruins Stan’s Halloween plans, telling him that he needs to stay because the store is going to be super busy as people rush out to rent horror movies.  Kenny, Kyle and Cartman are naturally unhappy about this, as they’ve planned to go out as the Avengers, with Kenny as Iron Man (which keeps his face hidden and voice altered), Kyle as Thor, Stan as Captain America and Cartman as The Incredible Hulk.  The boys come up with a solution though, with Kyle pulling along a skateboard with an iPad propped up on it, as Stan uses the FaceTime app to appear alongside them.

In the past, the boys thinking big has gotten them into trouble, and they haven’t learned their lesson as they see a group of men breaking into a supermarket and decide that it’s time for the Avengers to go to work.  They quickly change their minds when they realise how many men they’re actually up against, but Stan (on an iPad) gets caught and questioned.  It’s another smart and funny scene as even though Stan is completely safe and nowhere near the men, they ‘torture’ him for information by scratching the screen of Kyle’s iPad.

The men are the ‘Red Box Killers’ (Red Box being another DVD rental company), who apparently don’t realise that you can stream movies online and think that the Red Box DVD vending machines will be full of money.  The killers are headed for the local Monster Mash (which is a graveyard smash and gets on in a flash) so the local cops send Stan in ‘undercover’ to find them.  He’s still using FaceTime, but is now disguised as Gangnam-stein (most people at the Monster Mash have come dressed Gangnam style) with a police officer as his torso.

The show ends with Randy taking over from Stan on FaceTime, and running amok as Gangnam-stein (although it’s not really explained how he’s in control of the body) before the Red Box Killers are arrested and Randy ends up frozen outside the destroyed Blockbuster (Shelley burnt it down), just like Jack outside the maze in The Shining.

After last week’s disappointing episode, this is a swift return to form for South Park, featuring some classic Randy moments and the boys on an unlikely adventure that still ends well.