Today NBC aired the first episode of their new horror anthology Fear Itself. This evening Tex sent us his official review of “The Sacrifice”, which was written by Mick Garris (“Riding the Bullet,” “Amazing Stories”) from a story by Del Howison (“Dark Delicacies”) and directed by Breck Eisner (“Creature from the Black Lagoon”). When four criminals find themselves stranded in an old, snow-covered fort, they slowly discover both the fort and the seductive trio of sirens who reside there are filled with deadly secrets. Click here to write your own reviews or read on for Tex’s thoughts…
Mick Garris (MASTERS OF HORROR) brings his latest vision of a horror anthology show to NBC with the debut of FEAR ITSELF. Like his Showtime series, Garris is bringing aboard a gaggle of genre vets and a few newcomers. This premiere episode SACRIFICE provides a solid mix of both.
Garris penned the screenplay based on a short story by Del Howison. Howison’s name should be familiar to the more literal gorehounds out there, as he is the owner of the Dark Delicacies bookstore in Burbank, California–the be all, end all location for the best in horror film and book signings. Helming the episode is Breck Eisner, who’s getting his feet bloodied in the world of genre films before stepping up to lens THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON and a re-make of George Romero’s THE CRAZIES.
SACRIFICE follows four friends whose car troubles leave them stranded in the middle of the snowy wilderness. With one of the group seriously wounded, the men happen upon an old fort. Inside, they discover three beautiful sisters and a deadly secret that has been hidden behind the walls for a very long time.
SACRIFICE has a few things working against it, and a lot of things working in it’s favor. To begin with, what we are talking about here is a cut and dry monster movie. Everything is by the book. Eisner’s direction is not flashy–although he does employ a few interesting camera angles. As the film’s opening credits run, the bleak landscape calls to mind Sam Raimi’s terrific film A SIMPLE PLAN. Eagle-eyed genre fans will recognize the fort in the wilderness (A location previously used in the highly underrated GINGER SNAPS BACK). It’s clear almost immediately (we’re talking pre-credit sequence here) that the men have been lured to this location. So, we know everything is not hunky dory. The trio of girls–lead by Rachel Miner (PENNY DREADFUL)–have obviously been extremely sheltered. Their speech is stilted and when they display flashes of their sexuality, it seems forced. The film addresses these issues (which have an interesting subtext in light of recent events in Texas) with the final reveal and does well to make the viewer reassess some preconceived prejudices about their intentions.
The problems lie in the fact that the film is moving forward with all guns blazing from almost the minute the guys arrive at the fort. There is no time for character development on the part of the women and one of the guys is dispatched so rapidly it’s a wonder why he was even written into the script at all.
The effects work is pretty good stuff and those of you fearful that no blood was going to be shown can rest assured that there’s a fair amount of splatter to go around. Obviously no one is going to be swearing up a store on network television so, despite an instance or two where you’d expect a few four letter words to fly, the scripting is pretty much on the mark as far as believability.
SACRIFICE is probably not going to blow any dyed-in-the-wool horrorhounds minds, but for a primetime horror show, not airing on a pay cable network, it’s not bad. That Garris and company have taken a traditional horror film format to NBC says a lot about how much television has progressed over the past 20 years. As I said before, it’s not explicit–at least no more so than a week worth of CSI episodes would suggest–but it is fair to the viewer. If the assembled coming episodes match or hopefully enhance the favor earned by SACRIFICE, I wager we’re looking a pretty fearful summer ahead of us.
6/10 or 3 Skulls