With Star Wars: Visions Volume 2 episode 2, Screechers Reach, Irish studio Cartoon Saloon introduces horror to on-screen Star Wars. Screecher's Reach

‘Screecher’s Reach’ Introduces Horror to a Galaxy Far, Far Away

This article contains spoilers for Star Wars: Visions Volume 2 episode 2.

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Star Wars: Visions has returned with nine new episodes with nine new studios, and one of those studios is Cartoon Saloon, based in Ireland. When I saw the announcement trailer, I was so excited. Cartoon Saloon is an incredibly talented studio that has told many incredible stories: The Breadwinner and Wolfwalkers are two notable examples. Cartoon Saloon is known for tackling heady subjects with its stories, and I would actually compare them to the works of Don Bluth and his team. With its contribution to Star Wars: Visions Volume 2, entitled “Screecher’s Reach,” not only does the studio have perhaps one of the most intense entries, but it has introduced horror to on-screen Star Wars.

Cartoon Saloon has also injected its Irish personality into the Star Wars universe with “Screecher’s Reach.” The workhouse that Daal and her friends hail from is a clear allusion to the many workhouses that children were sent to back in the 19th century. Already the short film has set up the hard life these characters have, as the real-life inspiration of places like this were cruel and inhumane.

The only solace Daal, Baython, Quinn, and Keena find is in the myths of their planet, in particular Screecher’s Reach, where a terrifying ghost is believed to reside. There is something inherently heartbreaking about children who find ghouls and ghosts the fun part of their daily lives. The fantastical, even though it’s horrific, is better than their even harsher reality.

When Daal and her friends arrive at Screecher’s Reach, they come face to face with the Screecher itself, and it is monstrous. From how its very presence encroaches on the color around them to its frightening design, the Screecher is something ripped right out of a nightmare. Its animation style is in stark opposition to theirs. While they have soft lines and curves, it is nothing but jagged lines constantly vibrating, attacking the air around them. The inspiration of the Screecher is equally unnerving, as it is based on an Irish monster known as a banshee. These female spirits were terrifying, and what they represent is perfectly suited to this story.

With Star Wars: Visions Volume 2 episode 2, Screechers Reach, Irish studio Cartoon Saloon introduces horror to on-screen Star Wars. Screecher's Reach

You see when Daal faces the Screecher and its crimson weapon that she uses the Force to pull down a boulder on top of it. When Daal sees it in the light, it is revealed that the Screecher is actually a decrepit Sith. When the Sith tries to recover and kill Daal, Daal takes the lightsaber and kills her instead. It’s a haunting scene as Daal reunites with her friends, clutching the lightsaber for dear life.

As the found family try to recover, a ship lands and a motherly figure looms over them stating that Daal has passed her test. She can now go on to a better life. Daal makes the decision to go off with this woman and leave the only people she’s known behind. To put a final nail in the coffin of this story of innocence lost, Daal turns back to them at the very last moment, perhaps realizing far too late that she has made a terrible mistake. It’s emotionally powerful and ends the story on a tragic note.

“Screecher’s Reach” from Visions Volume 2 is the most haunting story I’ve seen in Star Wars. From the evocative score that instills an otherworldly atmosphere when the children leave the known world to the unknown, to the very shadows of the cave of the Screecher attacking them, these children are never safe. Even the inspiration behind the Screecher foretells what is to come. You see, when a banshee’s cry is heard, it heralds the death of a family member, and at the climax of the episode Baython, Quinn, and Keena lose Daal. She effectively dies, as the person she will become will be a far cry from who she is now.

Star Wars has the potential to cover every genre and tell every kind of story, and with Cartoon Saloon, it has finally given us an impressive and unique horror story on screen.


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Author
Graham Day
Graham has been writing online for close to a decade. This includes writing about games, books, films and so much more. He loves stories of all kinds across every form of media. For the Escapist he tries to come up with his own unique angles on the stories we adore. He was born in Dublin, Ireland and has been an actor, an amateur animator, writer and artist. He also runs his own website based in Ireland.