Amazing Stories 2020: Episode 2 - The Heat (2020) - Reviewed

After the first episode of Apple TV+’s new iteration of Amazing Stories, the time traveling romance The Cellar, the show shifts gears somewhat as well as changes directors completely with the second episode The Heat.  Helmed by Slender Man director Sylvian White and written by playwright Chinaka Hodge, The Heat follows two high-school track-runner best friends, diligent and headstrong Sterling (E’myra Crutchfield) and party girl Tuka (Hailey Kilgore).  Pushing one another to the limit on the track field on a daily basis, the two are inseparable.  That is until a hit-and-run tragedy strikes one night, leaving one of them in the afterlife but not without a catch: the two can still communicate if they’re running together.

Though somewhat heavier than the first episode offered on the show, The Heat winds up being an endearing and moving change of pace for the series, providing a supernatural spin on the inspirational sports movie tropes while exploring the eternal bonds of friendship.  Like Jerry Zucker’s Ghost, it’s heroine has unfinished business and isn’t quite ready to leave our world just yet though The Heat manages to surprise with ideas even the most seasoned supernatural filmgoer won’t see coming. 

Sylvian White’s use of hyperkinetic, somewhat psychedelic editing in certain scenes can be somewhat trying for the viewer though some techniques like the use of the drone camera prove to be quite effective.  Mostly though, this is an actor’s piece with much of the heavy lifting done by the young two leads.  Both Crutchfield and Kilgore as the doomed duo are very strong and are asked to exhibit tense, strained emotions which they more than delivery on.  You’d have to be a hard pressed cynic not to be moved by the dilemma faced by these two. 

Like the first episode, The Heat runs just under an hour but in that time tells a story worth most feature length pictures.  As to whether or not this new Amazing Stories iteration catches on with viewers remains to be seen, but for my money I’ve been enjoying the journeys taken on Spielberg’s reboot of his beloved mid-80s television program.  A good companion piece to the recent reboot of The Twilight Zone, Amazing Stories continues to impress and even has the capacity to draw newcomers in who were previously unfamiliar with the original series.  Keep up the good work, people!

--Andrew Kotwicki