The Nightmare Room

Wicked Wednesday: The Nightmare Room ep. 1.4 “Tangled Web”

Whoo-ee. It’s been already been one heck of a week, and we’re only half-way there.

I always set out with the best of intentions with this blog. I want to watch a movie, write about my thoughts, enjoy the feeling of being slightly productive. But increasingly, it’s becoming more and more difficult to find the energy. And in a week like this week, I needed a break.

Many a weeks have I Googled random key words like “scary TV shows” or “spooky stuff for kids”. And weirdly, the second one yielded a television show I never heard of: The Nightmare Room.

This little early-millenium show was rather short lived. Only making 13 episodes, which probably explains why it passed me by (despite the fact that I was probably the target demographic at the time of its original airing). It’s a bit surprising it didn’t last longer, considering it’s based on the series of books by R.L. Stine.

Like many of Stine’s Goosebumps works, The Nightmare Room is filled with lessons for obnoxious children. In the fourth episode, “Tangled Web”, we meet Josh. He’s a serial liar and a complete tool (sorry, kid).

One day, a subsitute teacher (David Carradine) arrives at Josh’s class. He collects the children’s homework, and only Josh doesn’t have anything to turn in. Josh tells the sub that it was accidentally stolen during a robbery at his house the night before. The sub believes the boy saying, “I’m sure if he says something is true, then it must be true.”

Things begin to get strange after that for poor Josh. His lies become realities. He finds himself with a bully of an older brother, is actually robbed by clown-mask-wearing thieves, and eventually has to face a tag team of ninjas.

Josh eventually realises that his persistant lying is causing his problems. He eventually wishes everyone away, but it quite literally gets rid of everyone. Then the fool sets the school on fire. But eventually, the kid reaches his sub, Mr Barber, and finds the solution.

This was a fun little episode. Watching Josh’s lies get increasingly silly was entertaining. The children’s acting was pretty shocking, and it stood out more from the well-delivered roles by the adults. That being said, that is almost always the case with these sorts of shows.

I’m really sure why The Nightmare Room exists. If you told me this was a late-era Goosebumps episode, I’d probably believe you. It’s pretty similar in style and tone to the 90s episodes. Just with a bit more wrestler cameos.

This type of horror-for-children shows really hit their prime in the 90s. “Tangled Web” very much felt like the aftermath of that success. But it was definitely what I needed for a smile and a bit of well-needed brain break.

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