13: Fear is Real is really, really stupid
by Danny Gallagher, posted Jan 18th 2009 12:03PM
My name is Danny ... and I am a slave.
As far as I can figure, I've been sitting here on my couch for 60 minutes, and my TV is trying to drag my eyeballs to their death.
It wasn't always like this. I had a real job with a real salary and real health expenses that would pay for glasses when my eyes were weakened by the incandescent glow of a television that could ruin the vision of a night owl.
My TV Squad editor sent my TV and I to a small network in the UHF channels. A producer had come to a remote cabin in the woods to create his latest reality show project, 13: Fear is Real. Bound in flashy camera tricks and dipped in sappy horror movie cliches, this reality show contained bizarre challenges, petty altercations, and a demonic, unoriginal mastermind who tortures and watches over all. It was never meant for the watching.
The producer released something dark on the network, something ... awful.
13: Fear is Real, the CW's midseason reality replacement from Evil Dead and Spider-Man director Sam Raimi's Ghost House Pictures and Jay Bienstock Productions, attempts to do for horror movies what Next Action Star did for action films. Mainly, rip them off and make something even worse than the movies they are ripping off.
This time, horror movies get the reality treatment as 13 people volunteer to go into the deep Louisiana woods to have the ever loving hell scared out of them for ... $66,666? I'd call these people cheap whores, but it would be insulting to actual cheap whores.
The game portion of the show is identical to every reality competition ever produced. The group endures two sets of challenges: a ritual that sets up two eliminations and an "execution" that sends one of the contestants to their "graves". Between these events, contestants can guess which one has the "death box" that can earn a third contestant a place in the execution if they fail to guess the correct contestant if they aren't "killed" first.
The show really likes to beat its audience over the head with the fact that it's a horror reality show. No one says they are hoping one particular person will be sent home or get voted off the show. They actually say they hope so-and-so is "killed" in every interview. It takes more suspension of disbelief to buy into this premise than it does to believe that Anna Nicole Smith married J. Howard Marshall for love.
It's a reality show. The audience knows that no one is really killed and any attempts to dissuade them makes the show even more corny and hokey. Don't try to dress it up to turn it into something it's not, like something good and entertaining.
The whole show is also overseen by some omnipotent Saw-like maniac who tries to get the contestants to plot against each other and coax at least one person into the execution before the challenges start. The challenges themselves aren't anything we haven't seen before outside of an episode of Fear Factor or a YouTube prank video made by a fraternity with too much time on their hands. However, the maniac also has minions who dress in all black and jump out of the darkness to set up these elaborate tasks and rituals that always make the contestants wet their pants since there is non-stop screaming from beginning to end.
That's about the only people they manage to scare during each episode. In fact, by the end of the credits, my pants were as dry as this show.