The first 4 episodes of "Fear Itself" have been well... let's just say pretty mediocre. I mean, even the 1 episode that I really liked, is not anything that I would ever even consider sitting down to watch again. At best, this series has the chance to be fun summer filler for NBC. At worst, it's a really awful representative of the genre. This week, I was pleasantly surprised.
As you may have noticed, we missed our usual Friday morning review for "Fear". In all honestly, we just all forgot. I think that in itself makes a really strong statement about the quality of this series so far. So, I'm writing up my thoughts right now after watching it on Hulu.com last night (the quality was amazing by the way), and Casey should be adding his later. So, in case I haven't said it already, sorry for missing our regularly scheduled programming.
Last week's episode was called "Eater", and it was directed by Stuart Gordon, director of many horror classics including the original "Re Animator". "Eater", was supposed to have been the one that kicked off the whole series and Frankly, I can't see why they changed their minds.
The basic story is about a rookie female cop, forced to spend the night at the precinct with two sexist colleagues and a 7 foot tall serial killing cannibal from New Orleans. The latter of that trio is behind bars of course, but that doesn't stop him from doing freaky voodoo chants and making the lights flicker at every turn. Long story short, it becomes apparent very fast that something bad is about to go down in this jail.
Despite the fact that I liked it, I found the acting in this episode particularly bad compared to others. Our main character, a young female referred to as "Bannerman", is painted as a horror fan. She's caught reading a horror magazine in the beginning, has full sleeve tattoos, and is harassed by her two male colleagues for being a "goth cop". Unfortunately, the moments when the main actors are talking are the worst parts of the episode, because everyone comes off as forced and awkward.
That said though, I do think this is the best Fear Itself episode, and here's why. Gordon has all the right moves here behind the camera. Unlike all the other episodes, which have looked like low budget, over-lit television dramas, Gordon actually lights and shoots this like a horror film. There are moments where Bannerman is slinking around the station at night, lights flickering, snow driving outside, where I actually felt that elusive thing called "atmosphere". I keep saying this over and over, but none of the other episodes have had anything approaching atmosphere. This episode is a great example of how you can create a creepy one, despite the limitations of being on network television.
Which isn't to say that they seemed to have any real limitations. In addition to being the creepiest ep yet, this also has to be the most violent. There are a few ripped out hearts we see the aftermath of, some torture, tongue cuttings, cannibalism... the list goes on. There were actually moments when I was surprised that they were getting away with these kinds of things on television. There is also about 5 times more blood here than there is in the PG-13 "Prom Night", which should tell you all you need to know about that film.
When the credits rolled on "Eater", I felt something that I haven't felt for this series yet; excitement. Part of me feels like watching it on Hulu was an advantage, because the commercial breaks are incredibly short (:15-:30 seconds). It made it much easier to get into the flow of the show, without being taken out for 2-3 minutes at a time. After this episode, I'm truly interested to see where this series goes from here, and that's a ship I thought had sailed a few weeks ago. So, color me intrigued... let's see where this series goes from here.
Feel free to tell us what you thought in the comments!