Who isn’t happy as hell to see a new Halloween South Park episode? There hasn’t been one in about five years or so, and us viewers were in desperate need of a raunchy, absurdist take on some scary film or event that is Halloween related. Well, we finally got what we asked for, and it was very much worth the wait. This week’s South Park sourced both old and new, combining a parody of Kubrick’s iconic The Shining, the decay of physical home video rental, The Avengers, and PSY’s “Gangnam Style” into an amalgamation of pure hilarity.
What made this episode so great, besides its subject matter, was that it had an equal balance of focus on both Randy’s and the boys’ activities. The boys are planning to enter into a costume contest by dressing up as the members of the Avengers, where Kenny is Iron Man, Kyle is Thor, Stan is Captain America, and of course, Cartman is the Hulk. Although a major problem arises when Stan is unable to go out with them to the event. Randy, the giant idiot that he is, invests his family’s money in purchasing a Blockbuster on the edge of town, and is under the impression that it will make them a lot of money. Unbeknownst to Randy though, and despite the obvious nature of it all, everyone now obtains their movies through streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu through their computers and mobile devices. As the days and weeks go by Randy, much like Jack Nicholson in The Shining, begins to see things and slowly falls into an obsessive craze . Thus, Stan is unable to go out because he has to stay and watch the shop, so the boys end up using Kyle’s iPad to project a FaceTime feed of Stan in his costume.
Randy’s slow degeneration into a deranged state is one of the highest points of the episode, with his priceless facial expressions and passive-aggressive depravity being both hilarious and creepy at the same time. His downfall at the end is equally funny, with Sharon not giving a crap that her husband is partially frozen and only caring to ask him what he wants from McDonald’s. In fact, she really didn’t give a crap about any of his insanity for the duration of the episode, which added a bit of comedy to Randy’s more sinister moments.
The other, smaller moment of comedy in the episode came about first with the moment of Jimmy being introduced as PSY in his “Gangnam Style” music video. His stuttering introduction was so funny I almost spit out the beer I was drinking when I watched it. The play on the musician kept building up throughout the episode, as everyone was showing up as dressing like PSY, until a policeman and Stan on the iPad combine to become Gangnamstein – an obvious riff on Frankenstein – in order to find a group of thieves who have been robbing Redboxes.
I’m really happy that South Park took the Halloween route, as this was a fantastic episode full of the great Randy Marsh, the boys and their shenanigans, and some great social commentary. It definitely could have been an all-around funnier episode, but the story cohesion, character performance, and strong references really made this one stand out as the front-runner for the season so far. “A Nightmare on FaceTime” will definitely be identified as a great moment in the series’ history, which is more than can be said for the identification of Cartman as the Hulk.
9 out of 10