Mini-Review: “FEAR ITSELF” – SPOOKED

Posted by Peter Hall - June 22nd 2008 @ 8:21 pm

Directed by Brad Anderson, 2008
Written by Matt Venne

Brad Anderson is a name that bodes much hook with me.  He is a director whose television stints on “THE WIRE” and “SURFACE” are work I’ll go out of my way to detour for, so I feel fortunate when his job falls in line with my (non)job.  Thus is the second episode of “FEAR ITSELF”.  Written by Matt Venne, who wrote Dario Argento’s “MASTERS OF HORROR” season 2 episode PELTS, SPOOKED concerns a sleazy cop turned private eye who picks up a divorce case that requires he stake out the mark from within a vacant house.  From night one it is clear the den is off.  From his post, Roberts sees lights go on in the target house across the street that his partner outside in the van does not.  Soon the voices and memories start.

What starts out as a promising yarn of a dirty cop haunted by his past dirty deeds, unfortunately devolves into a generic supernatural revenge flick by way of Venne’s obvious script. The main headlines of the plot fall into focus well before their unveiling and the side bullet points that Venne fills time with (Roberts’ childhood trauma) are unsatisfactory.

I suppose the concilatory thing to say is that SPOOKED is not the worst “FEAR ITSELF” episode yet.  It’s not even that bad of an episode.  Brad Anderson is capable enough to drop the soundstage vibe that permeated the premiere episode.  The ep looks and sounds great and even Eric Roberts gives a nice wry performance.  What holds it back is a strictly mediocre story wrung into an even more mediocre format.  Perhaps I should not be shocked to read on the IMDb that series creator Mick Garris was responsible for the story.  I like the idea of a bad cop forced to face the bad things he’s done, but neither Garris nor Venne provide a unique (or unpredictable) anchor for us as an audience to get worked up about.

An episode that is just, well, there.


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