Friday, July 4, 2014

Tales from the Darkside: Monsters in My Room

If "Monsters in My Room" represents an accurate account of Seth Green's childhood, it would explain a few things. Green, in one of his earlier roles, plays Timmy, a little boy with two big problems: his stepfather Biff (Greg Mullavey) doesn't understand him, and oh yeah, there are actual monsters living in his room, including a boogie man in the closet and an octopus under the bed. Biff wants the boy to toughen up, and he doesn't believe Timmy when he says there are monsters in his bedroom.

I'll admit it; "Monsters in My Room" creeped me out more than I expected it to. I expected it to be more kiddie friendly, but the ghouls here are well done, kept in the shadows, and genuinely menacing. The episode builds suspense with all the times Timmy almost sees the monsters, how he just misses being caught by one them, whether it be a tentacle reaching out from under the bed or a claw lunging out of the closet to grab him. Watching it even as an adult makes you feel like a little kid, and Green to his credit makes for an engaging lead.

The episode plays on a couple of common fears. First, the idea of how vulnerable you are lying in your bed at night. Who knows what will emerge when you close the door and turn out the light? The second is the fear of being disbelieved by those you expect to help you. Like Phantasm, in play is the notion that as a kid, you see things that adults don't, so whatever you're dealing, you have to face it on your own.

On a deeper level, "Monsters in My Room" could also be interpreted as another episode about family turmoil with the monsters being a representation of Timmy's anxieties stemming from his mother and stepfather's fighting. Timmy is something of a sensitive, intellectual soul who wants a stuffed panda for Christmas, studies bugs, and plays piano. His mother encourages this, but Biff thinks it will make the boy turn out soft and weak, so he does things like toss a football at Timmy when he's not looking, give him a toy gun as a gift ("Like the one I had in 'Nam"), have him drink beer, and turn a baseball game on the radio when Timmy is trying to practice piano.

This leads to arguments between him and Timmy's mother, fights Timmy can hear when he's trying to go to bed, the time when the monsters show up. When Timmy finally stands up to the monster, is it a surprise that he finally has the courage to confront his stepdad?

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