Fear Itself: In Sickness & In Health (2008)
Reviewed by Sirand
Staring Maggie Lawson, James Roday
Directed by John Landis
Each passing episode of Fear Itself makes it more and more obvious why Mick Garris jumped ship. As usual, the failure comes not from the censorship, but the creatively challenged committee-thinking of network television. While Masters of Horror was more hit-than-miss, its success/failure fell squarely on the shoulders of the filmmakers, and no two episodes ever felt the same. Despite the best efforts of several talented horror gurus, Fear Itself has absolutely no identity and no aspiration beyond commercial success – a trend that even John Landis can’t buck with “In Sickness and In Health.”
Sam (Lawson) is about to tie the knot after a short-term relationship with her man-squeeze Carlos (Roday). Minutes before the ceremony, the bride receives an anonymous note reading, “The person you are marrying is a serial killer”, which obviously doesn’t sit well with her. Is it a practical joke? A jealous ruse? Or is someone really going to marry an axe murderer? This being a horror series, it’s not hard to guess which.
You know you’re in trouble right from the opening pre-wedding sequence, which features the bride-to-be recounting the entire history of her love life with friends. It’s not only awkward, it’s some of the worst exposition this side of a daytime soap, and things only go downhill from there. After the dreaded note appears, the script completely abandons any sense of paranoia, relying on hokey false scares and obvious red herrings to move the plot along. You would think with Landis at the helm, there would at least be some black humor, but he plays this one with a straight face. The only laughs come from the unintentional, like a hallucinatory sequence where Sam’s husband morphs into a CGI skeleton at the altar. Of course, like all anthologies, there’s a twist ending involved, and this one turns out be the most ill-conceived, silly turn since the finale of Haute Tension.
John Landis, having produced some of the best episodes of Masters of Horror, proves once more that he is only as good as his script. It’s sad to watch a man of his talents pinned – no, crushed – by such an awful one-note screenplay. Furthermore, this series continues to demonstrate the biggest fault of Masters of Horror: Horror anthologies are best suited to half-hour episodes a la Tales From The Crypt instead of the bloated hour-long format.
Unless future directors are able to turn it around (doubtful given the talent wasted in previous episodes), Fear Itself is all “sickness” and no “health” to the horror genre.
1 1/2 out of 5
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