Hulu’s anthology thriller drama has just kicked off this October 2, and we couldn’t be more surprised with the outcome. Monsterland, an eight-part series of horror tales set in different locations and characters delightfully scared viewers and fans alike. What were the highlights and what else do we know about the first episode? We rundown everything we got about it down below.
Created by Mary Laws, Monsterland takes inspiration from Nathan Ballingrud’s collection of short stories titled North American Lake Monsters. Laws find Ballingrud’s book “really poetic, sort of profound subgenre of horror. It’s not like slasher horror. This felt like it had a true feminine touch to it. It’s something you don’t see very often.”
Having been absorbed into the subgenre, Monsterland is Laws’ take on a non-traditional horror series that sees through how to become truly human. “We live in a world where you do one thing wrong and you can get canceled,” Laws says. “I’m not saying that cancel culture is exclusively bad, because there is a real reason for it, but I also feel like people are being trained to be a little less forgiving of other people’s humanity. I think it’s really important to recognize that people are people and you can do really monstrous, really horrible things and still be human.”
Monsterland Episode 1 (Port Fourchon, LA) Recap
The series opens with a woman getting drowned by a man at the beach. The man slices her head. Noticeably, this man has deep scars on his cheeks. He stitches up this scar himself.
The next scene shows Toni (played by Kaitlyn Dever), a struggling mother with her daughter who likes throwing a fit. She drops her kid off at a childminder, then heads into the diner she works at. We see her then as a single mother struggling to make ends meet with a daughter deemed impossible to look after.
At her work, Toni ends up serving the murderer from the opening scene. She sits with him and he introduces himself as Alex (Jonathan Tucker). The pair are having a strange conversation when the childminder drops off Toni’s daughter, Jack who is screaming. The childminder explains how Jack bit the mailman and that there’s seriously something wrong with her.
Fast forward, Alex asks from the diner where Toni lives. Alex goes to her and gives her a thousand dollars so he can stay the night. She accepts his cash and lets him sleep. When she asks who Alex is running from, he doesn’t answer.
In the middle of the night, the two started to get more intimate, they ended up sleeping together. In bed, Toni then asks what’s in the trunk of Alex’s car and he doesn’t answer.
When Alex falls asleep, Toni checks out the trunk of his car. She sees boxes with names on them. Alex walks up behind her and asks Toni to pick one. Terrified, Toni picks a box. When she opens up the box, she nearly throws up, horrified. Alex then gets out a knife and starts slicing his head. He rips the skin off his face and looks at her.
The next day, Toni wakes up from the couch. A woman is already in their kitchen, explaining how she has borrowed some clothes. Toni asks the woman where Alex is and the woman reveals to Toni that she is actually Alex. She explains that he uses skin suits that allow him to appropriate a person fully.
Toni reminds Alex that he killed all those people but he doesn’t seem too bothered by it because he’s done what he had to do to live.
The next day, Toni runs away with Jack to start a new life, with new names and a new story. Her daughter throws another fit which drives Toni into her endpoint. When her daughter falls asleep, she takes an opportunity to leave her daughter in a nice Mercedes nearby with a thousand dollars. She thought the woman who owns the car can give her a better life and she also wants a new one. The episode ends with Toni driving off, feeling free but crying.
Monsterland Episode 1 (Port Fourchon, LA) Hot Take
The series’ first human-monster pairing are played by Kaitlyn Dever and Jonathan Tucker. Over the course of that first episode, Dever’s single mom will have to decide what kind of future she wants, but also what she’s willing to do to achieve it. By the end of the episode, we realized that she became the monster herself – taking on a new life without changing her face.
“I was really excited to play a mom for the first time,” Dever says. “I think I had these preconceived notions of what a mom is supposed to be like, but there’s so many different types of mothers in the world, and they’re all going through different things. This episode was the biggest learning curve of my career.”
“I liked the idea of a monster anthology where you’re not really quite sure of how monstrous somebody is,” Tucker adds.
Missed the episode? You can now stream it via Hulu. First episode’s out on October 2.