FEAR HAUS Weekly Recap 3/20/19 – Barbara Stepansky’s ‘Substance’

Welcome back, victims, for our second ever FEAR HAUS weekly recap. I hope you’ve recovered from last week’s descent into the depraved depths of American Hell (recap for that episode here). But if you’re expecting mercy from our malevolent mistress of the macabre, Blair Bathory, you clearly don’t know Blair (read our interview here to get more acquainted). FEAR HAUS is a relentless one-way hellride into the best horror shorts on earth… there’s no sympathy to be found. So if you think you’re ready, let’s recap the episode for March 20th, showcasing Barbara Stepansky’s Substance (2014).

FEAR HAUS episode for 3/20/19 - Barbara Stepansky's Substance
FEAR HAUS episode for 3/20/19 – Barbara Stepansky’s Substance

This week finds our glamour ghoul Blair mixing up some concoctions for her new beauty line (Blood Bath and Beyond? Sadly, I think that one’s already claimed). Now as much as Blair is a strong advocate for human bloodshed, she would NEVER condone cruelty to animals. But we can’t have products going to the market without proper testing, so luckily an enthusiastic victim has graciously “volunteered” to be Blair’s test subject. Things don’t exactly end well for this poor soul, but the bewitching Blair has a limitless supply of helpers to continue her extensive research on. One quality you can admire in our hospitable hostess – she is incredibly thorough in her work. She won’t rest until the job is done right, and she understands the value of exhaustive experimentation.

Some people will go to any length to meet the ghoulish goddess Blair Bathory
Some people will go to any lengths to meet the ghoulish goddess Blair Bathory

The value of safe and careful experimentation is certainly reinforced by this week’s twisted tale, the stellar Substance, written and directed by Barbara Stepansky. This brilliant short opens with a couple of scientists sending a camera, mounted to a weather balloon, up into the wild blue yonder, only to have it plummet back to earth when it unexpectedly hits something just outside of earth’s atmosphere. Upon examination, the camera is covered in an unidentifiable black substance. The women collect a sample of this mysterious ooze to take home for further testing.

Stephanie Lovie Underwood and Najarra Townsend in Barbara Stepansky's Substance
Stephanie Lovie Underwood and Najarra Townsend in Barbara Stepansky’s Substance

From here, things start to spiral massively out of control, as best friends, Mallory (Zelda Roberts as Stephanie Love Underwood) and Summer (The Stylist’s Najarra Townsend – read our interview with her here), are headed to a music festival together. Rushing around to get ready, Mallory grabs a bottle of what she thinks is her Melatonin from her mother’s lab, and hurriedly scurries out the door to hit the road with her bestie. It’s supposed to be their getaway weekend together, and Summer swears to Mallory it’ll be just them, no boys.

But it doesn’t take long until Parker (Andy Earle: Twisted Tales 2013) catches Summer’s eye, and before you know it, their just-girl’s weekend is quickly fading away. So when Summer sends Parker out for some refills on their drinks, Mallory tricks him into secretly dropping in some of the Melatonin, thinking he’s slipping her some wild party drug. If they only knew. I won’t spoil the surprise, but this party turns into one wildly unforgettable night.

Substance is a breathtaking, beautiful short that is extremely well done, a fine addition to the FEAR HAUS roster of films. It’s a brilliant blend of sci-fi, horror and a slight touch of body horror, all seamlessly melded together. Substance could easily be expanded into a full feature with the breadth of ideas on display here, but it condenses down nicely into a concise, 16-minute short that is extremely effective. Outstanding stuff and exactly what we expect from the HAUS that Blair built.

Slipping mysterious substances into someone's drink can have deadly results
Slipping mysterious substances into someone’s drink can have deadly results

Thank you once again, readers, for tuning in for our weekly recap of FEAR HAUS! To check out Substance for yourself, take a gander at this wonderful episode right here. Massive props to Atlanta filmmaker Raymond Carr for his extraordinary work on Blair’s intro piece for this episode, and of course, to Barbara Stepansky for supplying her magnificent film. After watching, please be sure to leave some love in the reactions and comments. Your input means everything to the creators of this exceptional content! Brace yourselves for another all-new episode of FEAR HAUS, dropping this Wednesday, March 27th. I also have it on good authority from the Queen B herself that there are some major changes in store, and a massive happening coming to FEAR HAUS on Monday, April 1st. Be sure to tune in to their Facebook page for that, and all their killer content! Sweet screams!

About Matthew Solomon

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