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We’ve had video game adaptations, podcast adaptations, even adaptations of shortform internet creepypasta. But to my knowledge, The CW’s Two Sentence Horror Stories is the first time a Reddit thread has gotten its own TV show. Creator/writer/director Vera Miao’s horror anthology (making the jump from its previous iteration on Verizon’s go90) is inspired by the glut of microfiction that flooded from the unsuspecting prompt of “What is the best horror story you can come up with in two sentences?”—but how its viral inspiration differs from a traditional logline is…nebulous at best. At the very least, it’s an excuse to watch some efficient, self-contained horror built on the essential components of the genre: expectation and subversion. With only two sentences, there’s not room for much else.

That’s a good thing. More than many recent adventures into the twist-forward form (looking at you, Into the Dark), Two Sentence Horror Stories finds the right balance and speed for its anthology. The quick episodes, each less than a half-hour, waste no time sowing their uneasy seeds. They split their source sentences to give you a vague premise up front and fill in its macabre twist before the credits role. It’s like reading half the joke, then eating the popsicle to get the punchline. Equally delicious and enjoyably corny, the show’s version of “Oh No, Henry!” plotting lands squarely in the Tales from the Crypt style.

In the first example, director Natalia Lyudin’s episode is edited in visual stutters, with discombobulating sound effects and cleverly-withheld visual information enhancing the jarring script from C.S. McMullen. The story, serving as a showcase for actress Nicole Kang, is about a serial killer (Jim Parrack) that finds his single mom targets by being the quintessential Nice Guy on dates. Kang’s character isn’t putting up with his shit, which triggers some scary stalking activities that pile on with authentic and overwhelming succession. Kang juggles sweet, enamoured, hurt, scared, and righteous—all capped with a beautifully violent kiss-off.

This, combined with the other episode sent to press (which Miao wrote and directed), sets Two Sentence Horror Stories up for some savvy WOC-led horror that does more for its characters in its twenty-minute intervals than many horror features do. Miao’s body horror story, about loss of autonomy in emotional and economic senses along with its skin-crawling physicality, charms with an even scrappier style than the first. Tara Pacheco runs the show this time around as a roofied office worker: her aching performance is perfectly scaled, so big that you think she might burst.

By featuring female protagonists put upon by uniquely male awfulness, these stories touch social relevance without satire, wink, or otherwise misbegotten slant—these are horror stories of experience, stretched only a bit into the realm of genre. Condensed runtimes mean that their traumas are accelerated, told with shorthand that’s energetic rather than trivialized. It also means that there’s no time to waste on different plot threads. The focused and freaky plots aren’t especially unique, but they’re still fun to watch briskly unfold. You’re not going to be wowed by the twists, but you’ll still take some cathartic satisfaction in the (often disturbing) comeuppance that follows. One of my favorite things about the show, which can still sometimes catch on a stilted piece of dialogue or contrived interaction (usually minor quibbles that feel bigger because of the series’ leanness), is that it isn’t afraid to get nasty. There’s some seriously gross stuff in just the first two episodes, along with one of those wonderfully bloody moments that makes you go “Oooh!” and curl up in a little ball—but with a smile still stretched across your face.

With only two of its anthological entries released, it’s hard to judge what Two Sentence Horror Stories will be in its totality. Like the Reddit thread, the endless collections that followed it, or literally any horror anthology to ever exist, there is sure to be a wide variance of quality over the season. But they’re such digestible and clever little morsels that, like a horror story that’s only two sentences long, it’s hard to say no to just one more.

Photo by Patrick Redmond

Director Małgorzata Szumowska’s first English-language film, “The Other Lamb”, has been selected to world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. Szumowska is already a prolific filmmaker, having won the Silver Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival 2015 for her film “Body” and subsequently the Grand Jury Prize for her film “Mug” in 2018 (both films were co-financed by the Polish Film Institute).

For this European co-production, Szumowska has gathered a talented and highly acclaimed team both on and off-screen, and the recent selection for Toronto marks the high quality of the film. Managing Director of TrustNordisk, Susan Wendt, comments: ‘We are very proud to have The Other Lamb premiere at Toronto International Film Festival. It is a pleasure to be working with such a talented team on this feature with a thrilling psychological story at its heart.’

Written by award-winning Australian screenwriter Catherine S. McMullen and featured on the 2017 Black List and Blood List, “The Other Lamb” features young talent Raffey Cassidy, who most recently starred opposite Natalie Portman in Brady Corbet’s “Vox Lux” (2018) as well as in Yorgos Lanthimos’ “The Killing Of A Sacred Deer” (2017). Cassidy was the youngest ever actor to be named in Screen International’s Stars of Tomorrow in 2013 for her role as Athena in “Tomorrowland”, opposite George Clooney.

“The Other Lamb’s cast also includes the talented Michiel Huisman, who was most recently seen in the popular Netflix series “The Haunting Of Hill House” (2018), as well as in HBO’s “Game Of Thrones” as Daario Naharis (2014-2016) and “The Age Of Adaline” (2015), and award-winning Denise Gough (“Colette”, 2018; “Juliet, Naked”, 2018).

The film is lensed by Michał Englert and edited by Jarosłąw Kamiński. 

“The Other Lamb” is produced by Academy Award®-nominee David Lancaster and Stephanie Wilcox of Rumble Films, who have also produced the award-winning “Whiplash” (2014), “Nightcrawler” (2014) and “Eye In The Sky” (2016), together with Aoife O’Sullivan and Tristan Orpen Lynch of Subotica (“Miss Julie”, 2014; “Young Ones”, 2014), Danish producer Marie Gade Denessen of Zentropa (“The House That Jack Built”, 2018; “The Hunt”, 2012) and in co-production with Umedia (“My Brilliant Friend”, 2019; “Mandy”, 2018).

EXCLUSIVEThe CW is adding another original scripted series to its summer lineup, anthology Two Sentence Horror Stories. It marks the 12th original CW series for summer 2019, the most ever for the 13-year-old network, which has been ramping up its commitment to year-round programming.

Set to debut on August 8 at 8 PM with back-to-back episodes, Two Sentence Horror Stories consists of eight half-hour stand-alone episodes featuring actors Nicole Kang (Batwoman), Jim Parrack (Suicide Squad) and Aleyse Shannon (Charmed), among others.

TrustNordisk and UTA have unveiled the exclusive first still of the highly anticipated horror film “The Other Lamb,” the English-language debut of Małgorzata Szumowska who previously directed the Berlin Silver Bear winning film “Body” and “Mug” which won Berlin’s Grand Jury Prize.

“The Other Lamb” stars Raffey Cassidy (“Vox Lux”), Michiel Huisman (“Game of Thrones”) and Denise Gough (“Colette”) and just wrapped shooting. Represented in North America by UTA, “The Other Lamb” was featured on the 2017 “Black List” and “Blood List.”

Written by the award-winning Australian screenwriter Catherine S. McMullen, “The Other Lamb” is a haunting and nightmarish tale that tells the story of Selah, a young girl born into a repressive cult known as the Flock.

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Małgorzata Szumowska (Mug, Body) has finished shooting an Irish-Belgian thriller called The Other Lamb on location in Ireland. The protagonist of the story is a young woman called Selah, who was raised in a religious cult called The Flock. After she takes part in a rite-of-passage ceremony, her view of her congregation and its leader Shepherd’s teachings changes. Selah also starts to experience the sensual and sexual sides of life.

In 2017, the script, written by Catherine S McMullen, was placed on the so-called Black List, which is a repository of the best unrealised screenplays. “What also convinced me to make this film was the fact that it’s produced by people who worked on Whiplash and Nightcrawler, David Lancaster and Stephanie Wilcox,” Szumowska tells Cineuropa.

“I was also attracted by the very strong script and cast, including Raffey Cassidy, who showed huge potential in The Killing of a Sacred Deer. I feel more than prepared to make my first English-language movie, and I am very open to working on a genre film,” the Polish helmer adds.

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TrustNordisk has boarded international sales on The Other Lamb, the first English-language film from Silver Bear-winning director Małgorzata Szumowska (The Body, Mug).

UTA, which represents the director and the Interview lead cast, will handle North American rights.

The Other Lamb starts shooting in County Wicklow in Ireland on February 11 for five weeks with a cast led by former Screen Star of Tomorrow Raffey Cassidy (Vox Lux), Michiel Huisman (The Haunting Of Hill House) and Denise Gough (Colette). The film tells the nightmarish tale of a girl (Cassidy) born into a repressive cult known as the Flock, which is led by Shepherd (Huisman). She has an otherworldly experience and starts to question her own reality.

Australian screenwriter Catherine S McMullen wrote the script, which was selected for the 2017 Black List and the genre-specific BloodList.

David Lancaster and Stephanie Wilcox of Rumble Films (Whiplash, Nightcrawler) produce alongside Aoife O’Sullivan and Tristan Orpen Lynch of Subotica (Miss Julie), in association with Marie Gade Denessen of Zentropa (The Hunt), and in co-production with Umedia (Mandy). The film is backed by Screen Ireland and is an official Irish-Belgian co-production.

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The Lab will take place February 28 and March 1, 2019, during the 9th Annual Athena Film Festival.

Now in its third year, this two-day lab consists of intensive script development with seasoned mentors. It is designed for female writers who have not yet had a feature-length fictional script produced. Screenplays must include one or more strong female characters in leadership roles at the center of the story and must be feature-length narratives.

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‘The Other Lamb’, ‘The Homeless World Cup’ and ‘Pure Grit’ among recipients of production funding in Screen Ireland’s third quarter 2018.

‘Vivarium’ receives €50,000 additional funding with Fantastic Films for Lorcan Finnegan & Garret Shanley feature. ‘Wildfire’ Cathy Brady’s feature film currently shooting in Ireland, receives €85,000 in additional production funding; ‘Wildfire’ is produced by David Collins, Carlo Cresto-Dina and Charles Steel for Samson Films. ‘Wildfire’ previously received €550,000 + €100,000 (Female Funding) in Q1 of 2018, while ‘Vivarium’ was allocated €750,000 in Q2 2017.

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