Star Wars: Visions “Screecher’s Reach” is good Star Wars horror

Star Wars: Visions. Image courtesy
Star Wars: Visions. Image courtesy /

Full spoilers for Star Wars: Visions’ “Screecher’s Reach.”

Star Wars published their annual article about the scariest moments in the franchise just in time for Halloween. The list has many familiar entries like the Nightsisters raising the dead and “Brain Invaders” from The Clone Wars. One new entry stuck out to me immediately, ripping raw emotions from the depths of my core. Anytime I think of this episode, I instantly feel that cold dread grip me once again as I remember how shaken it left me. It should be on this list and every list for the scariest moments of Star Wars.

Because “Screecher’s Reach” from Star Wars: Visions Season 2 is one of the most terrifying things that ever come out of the Star Wars franchise.

On the surface, “Screecher’s Reach” has all the marks of a typical horror story. Cartoon Saloon’s episode sets up a group of kids on a ghost hunt, and they find the horrifying specter inside a cave. A young girl named Daal must face her fears to find her strength.

The visuals, the music, the scream of the so-called ghost all add to the creepiness. These aren’t the things that left me shaken with “Screecher’s Reach.” The most horrific thing about this episode is how it completely sabotages a traditional Star Wars story to sucker-punch the viewer at the end. Step by step, it twists the story tighter and tighter until it breaks the narrative.

Screecher’s Reach” tells a very traditional Star Wars story. Daal and her friends are subjugated by their horrible workhouse and Daal dreams of escaping. The group is a little found family that supports each other. Her friend Baython encourages Daal to chase her dreams and get that better life! It’s relatively wholesome in the first half. That is until the group arrives at the mountain cave called Screecher’s Reach.

The creators then take a very traditional Star Wars story and begin to twist it. Daal enters her own version of a dark side cave, muttering that the ghost isn’t real. Like Yoda tells Luke Skywalker in his own cave, it will manifest what Luke brings into it. Only for Daal, the ghost is real, and it’s an old dark side woman wielding a lightsaber. This is the first twist that Daal’s opponent is actually there, not a Force vision. This woman will kill her if she doesn’t escape.

The second twist is the reveal that Daal is Force-sensitive. Again, this is another common Star Wars trope. Daal scrambles for her life, reaching out to the only light source in the cave. The Force comes to her in her fear, which should be the first clue at the twist. Fear is the first step to the dark side, and Daal uses the Force to bring a bolder down on the woman.

Now trapped, the panicked woman tries to call back her lightsaber with the Force. Daal snatches up the blade and is faced with a horrible choice. This woman’s screams threaten to bring the whole mountain down on Daal’s head. Frightened, breaths ragged, Daal ignites the crimson blade and slashes, silencing the woman for good.

This is where “Screecher’s Reach” has completely changed the story. Daal reveals she’s had guidance from another woman telling her to face the “ghost” of Screecher’s Reach, speaking to her through the amulet Daal’s worn throughout the episode. This woman is a Sith, and Daal is a girl who so desperately wants to leave her life behind that she murders someone for it. The Sith Mother arrives, and, like any found family Star Wars story, Baython fearfully keeps his word, letting Daal walk away. The Sith twist breaks the story in the best way possible. It’s cold, leaving the viewer raw with an unhappy ending.

“Screecher’s Reach” is a masterclass in short-form storytelling. By taking very traditional Star Wars storytelling, Cartoon Saloon created something entirely new from the usual story we’re used to. It’s also one of the scariest things to ever come out of this franchise.