Saturday, December 26, 2015

Tales from the Darkside: A New Lease on Life

I enjoyed "A New Lease on Life" because it wasn't a silly comedy nor a hackneyed just desserts story.  I think it could have been vetted better, but there's less of the usual traits that detract from other episodes.

Archie (Robert Rothmans) moves into a new apartment at an incredibly cheap rate to be close to his new job but finds some odd rules about the building. He can't use nails to hang pictures on the walls (the wall bleeds when he does), he can't keep a microwave (the maintenance men who help him move in blatantly throw his on the ground), and every night, he must dump his leftover food down a special garbage chute. After a neighbor tells Archie to leave, she disappears.

I'm gonna spoil the reveal (not that you can't figure it out quick). The building is alive. It's a literal monster and needs to be fed, hence why leftovers are dumped down the garbage chute and hammering nails into the walls are forbidden. Now this actually is a cool premise for a horror story. Lovecraft could have done something special with this, but the execution here is a bit bland.

The apartment is too cheaply furnished to be impressive, and the scheme to feed it - with leftovers and anyone who gets out of line - is really hokey. The apartment building only seems to have a manager, two workers, and two tenants, and apart from the rent, the episode never explains why Archie (or the neighbor who knows the truth) doesn't leave when he suspects foul play.

The nature of a living building served by a cult (?) that it rewards with nice living raises a lot of questions that might have been fun to explore and used to build mystery, but the treatment here is perfunctory and rushed, but the ending, when the building drags Archie down its gullet, is a nice creepy moment.

The main problem is we know what's going on too soon, and we just wait for Archie to catch up. That said, Marie Windsor as Madame Angler, the dragon lady manager that wants to recruit Archie into the fold, is quite enjoyable.

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