“HOLLISTON: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON” (Blu-ray Review)
Few genres are as subjective as comedy. Since tastes are defined by culture, shared experiences and one’s threshold for silliness, comedy is rarely considered to be as inclusive in terms of subject matter or execution. To this point, one could look at horror as the flip side of the coin, an inclusive genre that often leans more on technical skill to achieve universally effective frights. Therefore, when horror and comedy mix, the filmmakers must carefully gel these aesthetics in order to appease both the objective lovers of horror and the subjective fans of comedy.
In FEARNET’s HOLLISTON, created by Adam Green, the series attempts to mix these two on a unique playing field: the three-camera sitcom. And while the show brazenly attempts to relate to the horror crowd while incorporating atypical elements of a sitcom, the success rate is a mixed bag, as every fun moment of earned goofiness is quickly offset by a cheap, uninspired gag. The show’s Second Season does improve on some levels, especially in its understanding of character dynamic. Nevertheless, certain problems still remain as present as ever.
To its credit, HOLLISTON is unlike any other sitcom on television, including big moments of blood and myriad obscure references to horror films of yesteryear. While these elements can invoke some big laughs at times, the major issue of the Second Season is a lack of consistency with its humor. Inventiveness, and learning from the mistakes of the First Season, buys HOLLISTON some good will in Season Two, yet that doesn’t make up for the show’s more predictable and tired sexual humor.
This doesn’t render HOLLISTON unwatchable by any means; far from it. The series has some great moments throughout, largely to the credit of its cast and creator. Green understands his characters and their story, which each organically develop over the course of the season with logic and respect to the sitcom medium. And for all of the humor that misses, the humor that lands is actually great, especially when HOLLISTON dives into more meta territory and plays off the preconceived notions of both the sitcom and horror. The Second Season episode featuring a PTSD-stricken Kane Hodder and a despicable Danielle Harris as themselves is a great example of HOLLISTON at its best; a show that considers the audience’s expectations, while also exploiting the confines of its format.
For horror fans who are not at all fans of sitcoms, it may take more convincing than even the strongest episodes of HOLLISTON’s Second Season. It’s not that Green or his capable cast is unable to draw laughs from the concept, but as with the First Season, the show’s sitcom roots play each moment of morbid humor for zany laughs, rather than the overtly creative or darkly comic tone that Green has become known for throughout his films.
At least HOLLISTON mines the most of its cast, which includes Green, Joe Lynch, Corri English, Laura Ortiz, Dee Snider and the late, great Dave Brockie. As “aspiring filmmaker” characters, Green and Lynch show a genuine love for all things horror, while Ortiz and English play to their offbeat side more than a sitcom may normally allow. Snider goes all-out as “Lance Rockett,” a somewhat meta role that also dips into the territory of self-parody, yet remains embedded in the character’s fictional shady habits. The show is damn nearly stolen by now late Brockie however, whose Oderus character is translated here, gloriously encompassing the rock star’s penchant for weirdness and profane explosions.
HOLLISTON’s scattered success rate in terms of humor still keeps the series from being this writer’s cup of tea. Nevertheless, the show is admirable in trying to mix both horror and sitcom-safe comedy, and is a noticeable improvement over the First Season’s erratic tone. It’s not hard to imagine that there will be many horror fans willing to embrace the series for what it is. Since comedy is largely subjective, and the subject of HOLLISTON steers from jokes about filmmakers, fright fare and relationship woes, the Second Season coasts on the zeitgeist of horror culture; it’s just a shame that its execution isn’t as ambitious as its aspirations.