“Born Cursed” manages to conjure up some legitimately scary imagery, and it works well enough for the most part that you can just about forget it’s made-up nonsense.
This recap of Haunted Season 2, Episode 6, “Born Cursed”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
For as long as you can forget that this story almost certainly isn’t real, “Born Cursed” is probably the best episode of Haunted besides its clearly anomalous exploration of conversion therapy. It has easily the best creepy imagery, managing to hone in on a few genuinely unsettling visages, even if we have seen the same effect before in Truth or Dare and, obviously, any depiction of Batman’s nemesis the Joker. But Haunted Season 2, Episode 6 definitely saved the best for last — it’s just good enough that you’re not entirely distracted by the claims that any of this actually happened.
The narrator this time is Oscar, whose mother was a big believer in local Mexican witchcraft of the white, cleansing variety and the black, evil sort; re-enactments of her pre-birth ritual, that involve a dead chicken, don’t look particularly cleansing, which probably explains why Oscar was born in an additional sack of skin, symbolizing an apparent curse.
The curse manifests at first as a greasy dude with an unnaturally wide grin terrorizing a young Oscar in his rough rural neighborhood. This fella, whom Oscar dubs “the Hangman” because of the noose dangling from his neck, starts to visit Oscar at night, rocking in a chair and gawping at him, and having a profound effect on his sleeping pattern, as you might imagine.
The horrors Oscar is able to see begin to worsen, and the number of people who can see them with him — his brother, his cousin — becomes larger. The next recollection is a run-over clown with the same mad grin who later pursues the kids around their home and breaks their dog’s neck. For years, the Hangman comes to Oscar every night, until they move to a house further down the street, where things intensify. The Hangman is able to touch Oscar, smacking him when he falls asleep, leaving him covered in bruises and scratches. Shortly after, he threatens to kill Oscar’s little brother. Oscar, out of ideas, thinks that killing himself is the only way to put the Hangman off doing so. He chugs a load of cough medicine and lays down to die.
Predictably, he wakes up in a morbid slaughterhouse that he assumes is Hell, and you can’t blame him. There, he encounters the Hangman one last time, but never again. He wakes up, having been discovered in a touch of irony by the brother he had attempted suicide to save. From there, his life improves. He gets married and has children. But now, his children are seeing things — smiley things. Were they born cursed too?
I mean, no, of course they weren’t. But at least they have something genuinely creepy-looking to be scared of. That has to count for something.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.