Hi everyone, welcome back to the Nightcrawler Experience!
Here we have Part 1 of my hopefully 2- part annual Halloween- related entry on this blog.
In considering my past Halloween entries on this blog, I noticed that each year so far since 2016, I've at one point used an episode of a TV show or streaming show. So, I might as well continue that trend now.
A show premiered on the streaming service Shudder (Sort of like Netflix but specializing in horror) last year, called 'Creepshow.' Based on the horror anthology movie series of the same title from the 80's, which in turn was based on the old EC horror comics of the 1950s, each 40- minute episode features two different stories, often written by big names in horror (i.e. Stephen King, his son Joe Hill, etc.).
Out of the six episodes that came out in the show's first season, my favorite was probably episode 3. The two stories featured in that particular episode were a fun yet rather bittersweet Halloween- related tale called "All Hallows Eve," and the story I will particularly focus on in this entry, known as "The Man in the Suitcase."
This episode has a bit of disturbing imagery, a scary moment near the end, and a LOT of language. ust a heads- up.
In this story, we quickly meet Justin, a slacker college student who hasn't been having a very good night so far: He's just flown back from a trip to visit his parents and beg his father for money (Never a proud moment for anyone), and his girlfriend Carla has dumped him because he isn't doing anything with his life at the moment.
Justin's night takes a MUCH more interesting turn upon arriving back at his apartment and discovering that he accidentally grabbed the wrong suitcase from the airport's baggage carousel; Rather than containing his clothes and things like that, the suitcase he took contains an Indian gentleman (Ravi Naidu), twisted up like a pretzel and forced into the suitcase, yet somehow still alive.
(A little help, please? Credit for this image goes to the user SilverFlight on the Creepshow wiki at https://creepshow.fandom.com/wiki/The_Man_in_the_Suitcase?file=The_Man_in_the_Suitcase.jpg)
The Man is surprisingly friendly and polite given his current condition (When asked how he ended up in there, he responds simply, "I offended someone I ought not to have offended"), and asks Justin to help get him out of the suitcase. Being the relatively good- natured young man that he is, Justin agrees, but this causes another, even more unexpected thing to happen: As he pulls on the Man's foot to help extricate him from the suitcase, the Man cries out in pain, and an ancient- looking gold coin flies out of his mouth! The Man explains that "An unfortunate condition causes me to produce gold when I am in pain." The Man says that if Justin gets him out of the suitcase, he'll be free to keep any gold coins that may be produced in the process as a fee, and Justin decides to think over this bizarre turn of events.
Things take yet another important turn when Justin's roommate Alex and the aforementioned ex- girlfriend Carla learn of the situation. Seeing the Man and his condition as a private gold mine just waiting for them, especially as Justin had the first gold coin appraised and found that it alone was worth hundreds of dollars, they decide it's something they should exploit. Carla is suddenly interested in Justin again (Funny how that happens when she finds out he's sitting on a potential fortune, isn't it?), and she and Alex convince Justin to keep the Man in the suitcase for another 48 hours.
Over the course of a disturbing yet darkly funny montage, the trio proceed to essentially torture the Man in a variety of increasingly unpleasant ways (Tossing the suitcase down a flight of stairs with him inside, pinching his extremities with a mousetrap, etc.), yielding an incredible fortune in gold coins in the process. The Man, remarkably, remains as affable and polite as ever throughout these horrible things being inflicted on him.
All is not well, though. We see that Carla is secretly having an affair with Alex, and Justin is feeling increasingly remorseful over what they've been doing to the Man.
Finally, as the 48 hours are up, Alex and Carla are about to employ their next, most brutal means of gaining agony- induced wealth from the Man: Hooking him up to a car battery to electrocute him. Justin at this point has finally had enough. The poor Man says that his heart can't take much more, and Justin realizes it's wrong and flat- out evil of them to line their pockets by doing this to him. He tells Alex, "There comes a time when you need to ask yourself who you want to be." Alex simple- mindedly responds "I want to be rich!" Justin decides to go to the cops to hopefully get the Man the help he needs. Furious at this and not about to lose her newfound gravy train, Carla bashes Justin in the head with a wrench, causing him to fall down the stairs. Don't worry, he survives.
Carla and Alex decide to try and get one last "Jackpot" from the Man before fleeing town with all the ill- gotten gold, and zap him with the car battery. Rather than screaming in pain and producing more gold, though, the Man instead laughs creepily and his eyes turn yellow. He then vanishes from the suitcase in a puff of smoke, and reappears as his apparent true form: a terrifying- looking Djinn (For those who may not know this term, a Djinn is a kind of demonic genie, the sort that grants wishes but usually with a VERY heavy price attached). Laughing evilly, the Djinn proceeds to trap Alex and Carla in suitcases of their own offscreen.
(To paraphrase the Man, it looks like now Alex and Carla are the ones who "Offended someone they ought not to have offended"; credit for this image goes to Dave Pierdomenico on a review of the episode on his own blog "Halloween Year- Round" at https://halloweenyearround.files.wordpress.com/2019/10/suitcase.jpg)
Justin awakens in a hospital room to find a bouquet of flowers by his bed. Attached to the flowers is a note from the Man/ Djinn, thanking Justin for the mercy and kindness he showed, and saying if Justin ever needs anything from him in the future, all he has to do is think of the Man and ask. The story ends with the Man, now looking fine and healthy and clad in a nice suit, checking ten identical suitcases at an airport as he prepares to board a flight to Istanbul, and from two of the suitcases, we hear two familiar- sounding voices screaming to be let out.
As I said earlier, out of the twelve story segments that have been shown in the first season of 'Creepshow' (Two per episode, in six episodes), "The Man in the Suitcase" was almost certainly my favorite.
Easily one of the main strengths of "The Man in the Suitcase," especially when compared to other segments in the show so far, is how incredibly funny it often is. While, as I said earlier, many of the tales seen in the show so far are written by respected names in the horror genre, "The Man in the Suitcase" was written by fellow Floridian Christopher Buehlman, who is normally a comedy writer, and it shows in the script. You will be laughing throughout most of it. In particular, the dialogue exchanges that the Man takes part in are often hilarious. Even the tortures inflicted upon the Man, horrible though they are, prompt some laughs from the ways they are staged.
In addition, as another review on this episode pointed out, this episode raises some interesting questions to think upon; Most prominently, what would you or I do if we were in Justin's shoes throughout this whole situation?
Another strength of it is that it does a marvelous job of channeling the old- school EC horror comics that the entire 'Creepshow' brand is meant to pay tribute to, both with its "Dark morality tale" vibe and the comic book visuals that are used throughout it.
Now, for the character run- down. Justin makes for a good main character. He's usually likable enough, and a nice "Everyman"- sort of guy. He's not perfect by any means (He's rather lazy, and a bit of a stoner), but you can tell there's some good in him, especially as the episode nears its climax.
Alex is suitably selfish and dishonest, yet good at manipulating Justin. You get the feeling that he may have at one time been a good person and loyal friend to Justin, but those days are clearly in the past and he now views Justin as little more than a sap for him to walk all over.
Carla comes across as even worse than him. While I've struggled with singleness and the loneliness it entails for most of my life, and have been desperate to find someone to be with, I honestly think I'd rather be single than be in a relationship with someone like Carla, who only cares about satiating her immediate, petty desires and clearly has no problem manipulating and betraying those closest to her in order to do so. She's a "Gold- digger" in every sense of the word, and the epitome of someone who's attractive on the outside, but truly hideous on the inside.
The standout character in this story, though, is definitely the Man. Ravi Naidu gives a hilarious performance as him. You'll be laughing along with him while still deeply sympathizing with him over all the pain he's put through (Especially given the friendly attitude he maintains all throughout it). You'll immediately be fixated on him and wanting to know more about him and how he could do what he does. One particular funny line he has is early in the episode, when Justin is about to help him get out of the suitcase but gets sidetracked talking about some random school friend of his, and the Man says in a very patient tone of voice, "Excuse me, please. I do not mean to interrupt, but I am in a great degree of pain and I cannot give your schoolyard drama the attention that I am certain it deserves."
Now, for the theological meat of the matter:
I'd say the most important Scriptural lesson to be taken from the story of "The Man in the Suitcase" is on the consequences of letting our greed take priority over our compassion. Justin's line to Alex about what kind of person he wants to be calls to mind Proverbs 22:1, which says "A good name is more desirable than riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold." Justin came to realize that monetary wealth meant nothing compared to the sort of human being that you were. We need to live in such a way that we are known for our walk with Jesus and the size of our hearts, not the size of our bank accounts. It can be so easy to sacrifice our principles for the sake of immediate gain, but those who trust in Jesus know that kindness and mercy are more valuable than all the gold in the world.
In contrast to the compassion Justin ends up showing, Alex and Carla's avarice ends up coming back on them through their fate in the end of the story, as they are trapped in suitcases of their own and will almost certainly end up being tormented for the gold they'll produce in the same ways they themselves did to the Man. It's a perfect metaphor for just how imprisoning greed can be. As 1 Timothy 6:9- 10 tells us, "
Speaking of which, a final Biblical theme I found in "The Man in the Suitcase" is on repentance, through the choices Justin ultimately makes. As I said earlier, Justin is by no means a saint. He is easily persuaded by Alex and Carla to keep the Man in the suitcase for an additional two days, takes part in their tortures of him, and uses the gold to do some decent things (i.e. paying off all the back rent that he and Alex apparently owe for their apartment), but also other more selfish things (i.e. buying an expensive- looking leather jacket for himself). And, yet, he does repent. He eventually realizes how evil what they'd been doing to the Man was, stops it and at least tries to convince Alex and Carla to do the same, and attempts to do right by the Man. This repentance and rediscovering his mercy and kindness are why Justin is rewarded with a very powerful new friend while the unrepentant Alex and Carla get the punishment they deserve.
Acts 3:19 says "Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord." We also learn from 2 Corinthians 7:10 that Godly sorrow over our sins produces repentance, which leads to salvation and us not having anything to regret. We all sin and take the wrong path from time to time, but as long as we're still alive, it's never too late to turn around, seek God's forgiveness, and do what's right as Justin eventually did. Jesus suffered and died for us on the Cross to give us that chance.
May we all avoid falling into the trap of greed and instead let our lives be defined by the Godly love we show to others, and be quick to repent when we mess up along the way knowing that God's forgiveness and mercy are renewed every morning. I'd say those sorts of lessons are worth more than gold.
That's it for this edition of the Nightcrawler Experience. I'll hopefully have my second Halloween- related edition up by the night in question. Until then, take care, stay safe and healthy, and may God bless you all!