“Fear Itself” debuts, a “The Last Winter” look

I finally caught the debut of NBC’s Fear Itself. Between Battlestar Galactica, Doctor Who and the horror flick The Last Winter, I hadn’t had the chance. Reviews were mixed on the Fear Itself premiere episode, written by the show’s creater Mick Garris. CBS’s Swingtown beat Fear Itself in the Nielsen Ratings, getting 5.23 million viewers (18-49 yr-olds) and a 2.0 rating/6 share to CBS’s 8.68 million, 2.8/8.

Writing good horror for the networks is always a tough go.  I would have liked to have seen the first episode breathe a bit more, but who knows what kind of hurtles the production team faced.  The main vampire was creepy, but I went back and forth with the sirens’ motivations.  But then again, it is network TV.  Until the networks open up… This week’s episode is Spooked, with Eric Roberts, directed by The Machinist‘s Brad Anderson.  It’s a bad-cop-in-haunted-house bit.

Meanwhile, the horror movie The Last Winter is a great isolation thriller. One of the tough, early hurdles a speculative fiction writer faces is suspension of disbelief. The Last Winter may actually suspend too well, and when director/writer Larry Fessenden finally shifts gears from global-warming-and-its-consequences straight into creepy town, it takes the viewer a moment to adjust to the idea the film is actually a supernatural horror flick.

While comparisons are there, The Last Winter is not Carpenter’s The Thing, thankfully Fessenden didn’t try. But it’s one of the best stabs I’ve seen in the horror genre at a very current fear–oil and global warming–and what the heck humans may be doing to the world.