Directors: John Landis, Ronny Yu, Breck Eisner, Stuart Gordon, Eduardo Rodriguez, Darren Lynn Bousman
Screenplay: Mick Garris, Richard Chizmar, Johnathon Schaech
Starring: Brandon Routh, Doug Jones, Eric Roberts, Briana Evigan, Colin Ferguson
Running time: 13 x 40 minute episodes
Release date: 28 January 2013
Very similar to the better known Masters of Horror television series – both were created by Mick Garris – we finally get a belated release of the entire first season of Fear Itself. The thirteen episode series was originally broadcast in the US in 2008 and is a real diamond in the rough.
Episodes are handled by famous horror directors such as John Landis, Darren Lynn Bousman and Stuart Gordon and the acting talent involved is somewhat impressive too. Just about every trope is covered in the episodes, so this should have something for everyone.
‘The Sacrifice’ follows four criminals on the run who take refuge in an old wooden village, only to find it appears to be lost in time, with no modern luxuries. However, this peaceful commune holds a much darker secret that may cost them their lives.
‘In Sickness & Health’ offers an insight to a wedding day whose bride, Samantha, has gone against everyone else’s wishes and decided to marry Carlos, even though they have known each other for a short period. Her perfect day is given a shunt, however, when she receives an anonymous note that appears to reveal a nasty secret about the person she is about to marry.
‘Skin & Bones’ features a hypnotically evil turn by Doug Jones as Grady. When Grady returns from being lost in the wilderness, his fingers succumbing to frostbite, he appears to be half the man he used to be. The biggest problem for Grady’s family is that he didn’t return alone.
‘The Circle’ takes a novel (literally) angle on the cabin in the woods trope. After he is cursed by a witch, a writer and his friends find themselves trapped by the darkness that tries to kill them.
‘The Spirit Box’ is a subtle twist on the old Ouija board story.
‘Spooked’ has Eric Roberts as a disgraced former cop who is haunted by one of the villains he killed whilst interrogating him. What he thinks is a straightforward stakeout to catch a cheating husband in the act turns out to be something much more sinister.
‘Eater’ takes the idea of Assault on Precinct 13 and makes the threat internal as a cannibalistic prisoner terrorises the night shift officers of a police station before the FBI pick him the next morning.
‘New Years Day’ gives us a zombie apocalypse on the titular celebratory date of the year as we follow one girl as she tries to get to her boyfriend.
‘Community’ shows us that chasing the American Dream can really turn into a nightmare if you don’t totally fit in with your new neighbours.
‘The Family Man’ follows what happens when a doting husband and father has his soul swapped with a mass murderer and finds himself locked away. At the same time, the murderer goes home with his wife and kids.
‘Something With Bite’ is the most comical of the episodes (which is unsurprising when you realise the writer is Max Landis – son of American Werewolf in London director John). When a veterinarian is bitten by a werewolf, he finds himself undergoing some changes that he can’t control.
‘Chance’ delves into the life of a man who realises that he’s been conned over a valuable vase and takes matters into his own hands. When he starts to see himself whilst trying to cover up the mess he’s made, he has to consider if he’s going insane.
In ‘Echoes’, Stephen gets his dream home, but finds that it comes with a past that could end in murder unless he can stop history repeating itself.
As with any genre series the episodes vary in quality, but there are no absolute clunkers on show here. Even the weaker episodes have something to offer. Yes, most of the tales have been told before and some of the twists you’ll guess early on. However, with genre television seemingly limited to vampires and zombies these days, it’s refreshing to see something different. Highlights are definitely ‘Skin & Bones’, ‘Eater’ and ‘Community’.
If you liked Masters of Horror then this is worth picking up to add to your collection.
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