Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Horror of '13: Fear is Real'

'13 - Fear is Real' Kicks Off Tonight
As mentioned before, The CW has a new spine-tingling eight-episode series that claims to combine the horror genre with a reality show format. The name of the show is 13 – Fear is Real and viewers are about to find out how spooky and entertaining (or crappy) the program is tonight at 8pm ET/PT.The premise is simple: 13 people of varying levels of wit, guts and attractiveness will be stranded in a Louisiana bayou to face their deepest fears in an all-out elimination competition and scare-fest. Or as network exec Dawn Ostroff would put it, “This series is the first to take the horror movie into the reality world. The action takes contestants on a journey with challenges and games designed to frighten them along the way. Similar to horror films, the challenges will play into our deepest fears and anxieties and will reveal things the contestants never knew about themselves.”

In the season opener of 13 – Fear is Real, the 13 contestants meet a disembodied, computerized voice known as The Mastermind, who tells them what to do and threatens them with fake death. Then the contestants begin their terrifying experience in the Louisiana when two unlucky contestants are buried alive. In each episode's first challenge, the Group Ritual, the contestants are forced to face their fears. Those who don't prove up to the challenge go to the elimination challenge, also known as the Execution Ceremony, in which only one "survives." Last person alive wins $66,666.The CW already revealed the identities of the participants of 13 – Fear is Real and you can read more about them in this previous article. Based on their initial information, some are scared of snakes, spiders, clown with spider hands, goldfish and being burned alive, while there are a few who claim to be fearless.


Viewers have nothing to fear, but ‘Fear’ itself

13 - Fear Is Real” answers the question nobody asked.
In this contrived series (Wednesday night at 8 on WLVI [
website], Ch. 56) from Sam Raimi (the big-screen “Spider-Man” franchise), 13 young people are gathered together in a Louisiana bayou by a disembodied voice, our host, the Mastermind.

Why is he called the Mastermind?
Because the name Dr. Doom is taken and Mr. Pussykins just doesn’t have that menacing ring to it.
They will have to face their darkest fears, the Mastermind tells us, or be “killed off.” Last person standing gets the subtle prize of $66,666.
It’s like the ultimate “Survivor” series, only without the suspense or the entertainment of the long-standing CBS staple.
The contestants are the sort of dumb clucks you’d expect at a VH1 show. Leah is still afraid of the dark and screams a lot. Cody is a professional ghost hunter. Lauren is a model who is cannily aware of the dumb blonde stereotype - but can’t help living up to it.
For the first challenge, contestants are forced into the bayou after dark to “rescue” their partners, who have been blindfolded, gagged and tied to chairs. The last team back faces the “execution ceremony.” In this do-or-die sendoff, they are buried alive in coffins and must force their way out.
“I’m going to my happy place now,” one player says, trying to calm herself.
But the staging is suspect and the sequence obviously sweetened for home viewing.
“Fear” does offer one innovation of a sort. Instead of, say, an immunity idol, contestants are introduced to the Death Box, a tiny container that gives its bearer the power to “kill off” up to three competitors.
This show appears to be a variation on Sci Fi’s cheesy “Estate of Panic,” but this viewer sees faint echoes of Fox’s 2001 series “Murder in Small Town X.” In that superior show, amateur sleuths set out to solve a complex murder mystery while being pursued (and eliminated) by the killer as well.
No doubt some will question whether “Fear” could desensitize viewers to the idea of a snuff TV show. Or that some real-life psycho could convince a bunch of aspiring fame-balls to play along, thinking they’ll be on TV.
“Fear” may be real, but the only danger here is death by boredom.