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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Anthology > TV > Fear Itself: Season One (2008/Lionsgate DVD)

Fear Itself: Season One (2008/Lionsgate DVD)


Picture: C     Sound: C+     Extras: C-     Episodes: C-



The idea behind the television series Fear Itself is that each episode (an hour on television, here around 40 minutes) is a self-contained horror movie directed by some of the great modern horror auteurs.  In theory, this anthology format approach is a tremendous idea following in a long tradition of classic horror television and radio series.  Shows like The Twilight Zone, and Tales from the Crypt have had a tremendous impact on the genre and most likely on the filmmakers who have now returned to make their contribution to horror television.  But over the past couple decades, horror has changed.  More often than not, the driving force behind a horror film is to push the envelope, to show more and do more than has been done before, and this is a mission that is deeply incompatible with the reality of network television.  So what the show ends up with are episodes created by top filmmakers, but that have been neutered of what those filmmakers do best and what horror fans like to see, namely graphic violence, sex, and gore.  
Season One of Fear Itself consists of 13 episodes on four discs, most discs with two episodes on each side.  Each episode has a director commentary which is the only special features on this release.  But with genre bigwigs like Darren Lynne Bousman (Repo! The Genetic Opera and Saw 2-4), John Landis (An American Werewolf in London), Ronny Yu (Bride of Chucky, Freddy vs Jason), Breck Eisner (The Crazies), Larry Fessenden (Wendigo), Stuart Gordon (Re-Animator), and Mary Harron (American Psycho), these are definitely interviews that horror fans will want to watch.  
The picture, in 1.78:1 widescreen format, is noticeably soft.  When the show is clearly formatted to be watched on newer widescreen TVs with ever-greater clarity, one wonders that they didn't put more effort into the picture quality.  The audio quality is better, but still not impressive.  Additionally, the DVD menus are unnecessarily difficult, forcing the viewer to enter the chapter menu and select the first chapter rather than just including a "Play" button.  
Overall Fear Itself is just mediocre.  The only advantage it has is its impressive slate of directors, but this does little to distract from extremely average plot lines, flat characters and mediocre dialogue.  While this isn't uncommon in the horror genre, Fear Itself doesn't even have the blood and guts that so many gore films use to compensate for these deficiencies.  Fear Itself will be disappointing to horror fans and uninteresting to everyone else.



-   Matthew Carrick


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