Well, that was pants.
A couple of Friday nights ago 5* launched a new series; or new to them, anyway; called Fear Itself, a horror anthology from Masters of Horror 'creator' Mick Garris. Purporting, as Masters of Horror did before it, to be a TV showcase for movie directors synonymous with the horror genre the show launched with an episode called The Sacrifice, directed by the man who brought us Sahara and the remake of The Crazies. One wonders if, given the brief of bringing name horror directors to the small screen, he wasn't perhaps an odd choice to launch the series.
The series didn't fare well in it's native United States, being canceled early with episodes left unaired, and it's clear from this premiere why. Without wishing to put too fine a point on it, it just wasn't very good. At all.
Of course, some would say hat it's hard to make a decent assessment of a series, especially an anthology, from one episode; if one story is poor then the next, with different cast, crew, writer and director, could be a masterpiece. You can never tell. To an extent, that's correct; I would never judge a series of this type based on a single viewing of, say episode 7. Episode 1 though, is different. It's launch night, it's the big premiere, it's their one and only chance to make a first impression; don't try to tell me they aren't going to put their best foot forward.
No, the decision was made that The Sacrifice was the best of the early crop. And The Sacrifice was poor. I'm not here to cast aspersions on the director though; the story was a shambles. I know there is a tendency to often blame directors for mangling decent scripts but considering the relative obscurity of this one, and the fact that showrunner Garris was credited as a writer, I'm willing to bet the man with the pen wielded more influence than the man with the camera on this occasion.
I shan't go into detail about the myriad plot holes and blatant absurdities in the story, but suffice to say that Garris and co-writer Del Howison should be ashamed of themselves. There isn't a shred of logic to the thing; I don't possess the sharpest of critical minds and it usually takes me a while after viewing something for all the flaws to coalesce in my head but on this occasion I was swearing at the TV throughout.
The biggest problem with the story goes a little something like this; we are told that the mysterious young women that have been acting very shiftily throughout are the last in their family, which has guarded this deadly creature for centuries. Then at the the end, they kill it in a manner which had been open to them all along. It's not even that these 'guardians' were stupid and needed an outsider to show them the way; the plan to kill it, when they devise it, is theirs, with the 'hero' being nothing but a redundant onlooker. So why didn't they, or their ancestors for that matter, kill it long ago?
So the whole thing was entirely avoidable. A pretty big flaw, to be sure. There are many others, including the girls treatment of the ill traveler, the whole problem of breeding, and the logistics of just what was happening with their father, but as I say, I won't go into them. I just wanted you to know that I recognised them.
I predict that Fear Itself will not be missed when it's short run of episodes comes to an end. There are episodes to come from Stuart Gordon, John Landis and Saw Dude who at least qualify as horror guys, so maybe it won't be terrible, but I doubt it will be any kind of classic. A shame.