Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Fear Itself – The Sacrifice – review (TV Episode)

dvd setDirector: Breck Eisner

First Aired: 2008

Contains spoilers

Fear Itself was another horror anthology show, which as I write the review of this episode I am in the process of watching and have to say – despite some negatives that I have read about it – I am rather enjoying. Not always relying on standard horror tropes, it actually puts some thriller elements into play as well. How the whole series pans out I’ll have to wait and see but here we are concerned with the vampire episode ‘The Sacrifice’.

Diego, Lemmon and PointThe film begins with four men in a car. Up front are Point (Jeffrey Pierce) and Diego (Stephen Martines). In back are Lemmon (Jesse Plemons) and the very injured Navarro (Reamonn Joshee). Lemmon keeps repeating that Navarro needs a hospital and complaining about the fact they are taking the almost dirt track standard back roads that are jolting them about. Point, the driver and Lemmon’s elder brother, knows they don’t want the cops searching their gear if they were to be stopped, hence taking the back roads. Suddenly there is a crunch and the car stops. A metal spike embedded in the road has ripped their engine out.

Rachel Miner as ChelseaThey put Navarro and their gear into a boat and end up dragging it through the snow, heading towards chimney smoke. A figure, holding a gun, watches their progress. They reach a fort – antlers adorning its outer walls – and go on in. The fort has a large graveyard but no one seems to be around. They enter the main building and a fire burns in the hearth, Diego and Point explore and noises appear to be from a radio – in a room adorned with sketches. They hear a shout from Lemmon and discover a girl, Chelsea (Rachel Miner), stood over Navarro. Guns get pulled and her sister Virginia (Mircea Monroe) appears. The stand off eventually dissipates and the men are offered a place to stay and help for Navarro.

Navarro stakedHe is taken over to a communal guest room, whilst Diego goes off with Virginia to get blankets. In the common room is a priest (Bill Baska), asleep and said to be ill. Chelsea sends Point and Lemmon off to eat as she starts to work on the hole in Navarro’s chest (they tell her he was injured boating). When they leave the room she sews Navarro’s lips shut. Stew is being served by a third sister, the mute Tara (Michelle Molineux). Meanwhile Diego has been tricked, by means of Virginia’s ample cleavage, and has fallen into an oubliette, the lid closed upon him. Point goes to take stew over to Navarro, and finds him dead, his mouth sewn shut and a stake in his chest.

a garden of license platesAll hell starts to break loose. Point tries to rescue the priest, who is chained to the bed it is now revealed. He breaks the chains with an axe and makes a break for the door, priest in tow, but something pulls the old man back into the room – the door slams shut, leaving Point outside, and we hear screams. Later, when Chelsea finds the priest dead (and it is also later revealed that he was the girls' father), she prays for him and, when he rises behind her, she cuts his head off. Yes, they are trapped in with a vampire and the girls are feeding him with passersby and then ensuring the victims don’t rise. It turns out that the fort was built by Romanian immigrants, who accidentally brought the creature with them. They have, ever since, sacrificed travellers to it, to spare the outside world. Point finds a wind chime made of stolen licence plates.

Lemmon strung upWith Diego missing and Lemmon strung up, bled and fed to the creature, Point has a real problem especially as a single bite will turn a victim. It might seem luckily that the things they were transporting were weapons, but machine guns are no use against the undead. In this only the stake, fire or beheading will do the trick. Rules around sunlight are not clearly defined and the fact that the vampires have milky coloured eyes, almost like cataracts, seems more a cool looking effect than for any logical reason.

the vampireI enjoyed this, I wasn’t too sure about how effective their final move against the vampire would have been but I could live with the concept that they would at least have tried to do what they did. Clearly there was an element that was almost From Dusk till Dawn-like, what with a group of criminals being trapped with a vampire. But that is superficial only, the dialogue is nowhere near as good and the girls are the antithesis of those in the earlier film. I liked the idea of the girl’s forced to give up their lives, and forced to sacrifice others, to preserve the wider world from the evil.

danger in the darkAll in all it was a pleasant little episode, a little blood, a little cleavage. The sound effects were probably a little too enthusiastic when it came to attacks, given they weren’t that bloody when you saw the aftermath. A good episode all told, with a nice premise that didn’t let itself get bogged down. 6 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.


The Dirge Of Gabriel said...

I rather enjoyed this episode. It has some good imagery and ideas, esp in regards to why the vampire was there.

I guess the theme of the episode is that 'evil is a point of view'. Surely baiting travellers to feed the creature is evil, but what if it got out?

I found the vampire design rather groovy, but so far the scariest vampire was from the "V-Word" with Michael Ironside(which was slightly ruined when he began speaking).

I think this was the only vampire episode on Fear Itself from memory, and unfortunately it went downhill from there, and admittedly I didn't watch it all due to that fact.

I'm still waiting for the "Masters of Italian Horror" series I hear about now and then.

It's supposed to be made Bava, Argento and others. Have you heard anything about it from your side of the world?

They should make it "Masters of Eurohorror" so Jess Franco, Jean Rollin and Paul Naschy etc can do episodes as well :)

Lastly, have you seen the "Cigarette Burns" episode of MoH, with the angel used to make that film? John Carpenter impressed me greatly with that (I usually find his stuff hit-and-miss).

The episode reminded me of The Ninth Gate, a rare reel of film instead of a book, but I think it was the best episode of the bunch.
It left me deeply disturbed....

The Dirge Of Gabriel said...

Additionally, this episode was based on a short story "The Lost Herd" by Del Howinson.



Funnily enough, he has acted in several vampire films.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

cheers for that Gabriel, I know the actor of whom you speak now he's mentioned - though the list of films is somewhat a liturgy of disaster!! :)

A masters of euro-horror might be interesting but has the same danger of being hit and miss.

If you can, check the fear itself zombie episode "New Years Day" rather good and from the pen of Steve Niles.

Yes I saw cigarette burns - one of the better episodes of MoH... I also enjoyed Dreams in the Witchhouse, as it was a fairly acurately reproduced Lovecraft

Taliesin_ttlg said...

of, should add, no, no news of Masters of Italian Horror on this side of the globe.