The Outer Limits: S1E18 “Don’t Open Until Doomsday”

A man leaves a present at a wedding and leaves. The tag reads, “To the Newlyweds: Don’t Open Till [sic] Doomsday.” How anyone is supposed to know when Doomsday will happen is a great mystery, so the warning is disregarded immediately. The package is a sealed box containing a groaning creature. Those foolish enough to stare into the peephole are driven to madness and despair. 25 years later, a new pair of newlyweds are the first guests to check into the bridal suite since the package was prematurely unwrapped.

“Don’t Open Until Doomsday” is a horror film in a very specific 1960s style. This is a bizarre and absurd British-style B-picture. A more modern reference is Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg’s fake trailer for Don’t featured in Grindhouse. The characters hardly act like human beings as the goal is to instantly send you into an alternate reality where a wedding gift can be the most terrifying object ever imagined. Every scene, every moment, every word is meant to make you feel unease.

The little creature in the box is a beautiful piece of Claymation. This blob with its bulging eye is more believable in its movement than the rest of the cast. It feels real in its dark box of a home. It is possible to create a film so absurd that a little pile of clay can feel like the most honest character in a story.

The dialogue is incredibly heavy-handed. The owner of the inn, the bride-to-be abandoned 25 years ago at her own wedding, describes the bridal suite as her own graveyard. Once she checks in the newlyweds, she dances under the graves. She winds up a victrola, ties up her pearls, and starts to Charleston in the lobby while her guests climb the stairs to discover the Doomsday gift.

The bridal suite is a time capsule. Nothing has been touched since the groom-to-be snuck a peak at the cursed gift. The room is covered in cobwebs and dust. A stack of unopened gifts decays in the corner. The once trendy suite is left as it was by the owner. She knows deep down that her groom will come back to her some day and she wants everything to be exactly as he last saw it.

“Don’t Open Until Doomsday” lives in the unexpected intersection of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? and Luis Buñuel. Good or bad is not a fair metric for an act of highly theatrical absurdity. This episode is designed to cause a reaction rather than an impression and it succeeds.

Up next: S1E18 “ZZZZZ”