Fear Itself Review: Episode 1.8 ‘Skin and Bones’

This afternoon B-D writer Tex sent in his latest review of NBC’s Fear Itself (all reviews), which continues every Thursday at 10/9C. Inside you’ll find a review of “Skin & Bones”, which was written by Drew McWeeny & Scott Swan (“Masters of Horror”) and directed by Larry Fessenden. When a cattle herder returns home to his family after being lost in the woods for days, he just doesn’t seem the same. Soon, a terrible mortal struggle ensues against the terrifying monster possessing him.

Fear Itself Review: Episode 1.8 ‘Skin and Bones’

fear060908 Fear Itself Review: Episode 1.8 ‘Skin and Bones’Director Larry Fessenden can’t seem to escape the supernatural grasp of the Wendigo. In 2001, Fessenden turned a feature film about the mythic cannibalistic creature. Now working from a script by Scott Swan and Drew McWeeny (CIGARETTE BURNS, PRO-LIFE), Fessenden returns to his favorite Native American beastie and lets him loose on a rural family farm.

Doug Jones (HELLBOY II) takes sabbatical from his usual prostheticly camouflaged characters to play Grady, a man—more or less—who after disappearing in the mountains near his horse ranch for 10-days returns emaciated and looking a little bit like one of the Gentlemen from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode Hush. What Grady brings back with him is a kind of infection, but not the normal kind. His soul is infected by the Wendigo and it won’t be long before his wife, kids and ranch hands all appear to be food for the frenzied beast.

Jones is the star—front and center—of this episode and he looks terrible! The normally gaunt and angled actor is still virtually unrecognizable under blacked out eyes and rotten teeth. He’s so thin; he looks like he could kill you with his collarbone. It’s horrifying and yet, Jones is such a presence that even when he’s sleeping you can’t take your eyes off of him.

It’s too bad that Doug Jones in all his ragged glory can’t save SKIN AND BONES from becoming nothing but another uninteresting entry in FEAR ITSELF—but for one side note…and not a positive one.

You see, this episode is the first one I felt completely gypped the audience on an action sequence. The film’s final shotgun blast to the face takes place off-screen and unfortunately, this time, shooting around the exploit felt out of place and incorrect. I’m sure had it been filmed as expected that the network would have been forced to cut what should have been a violent dénouement or suffer the FCC wrath and sponsor walkouts. I completely understand and accept that a MANIAC-styled brain blast is not what Proctor and Gamble wants running right before they try to sell you some Pampers! But, damnit, it’s what I want to see and what I think genre fans expected to see if we forgot for a moment that “The Peacock “was running the game.

Still, one shot (ahem) does not kill an entire episode. No, SKIN AND BONES fails mostly because it’s boring. Jones scenes are great acting exercises but in the end they service a script that has no sense of foreboding and no new elements to titillate viewers imaginations. In the end, I’m glad Jones hit a home run with his performance, but he really just wound up taking one for a team that failed him at every other opportunity.

4/10

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