Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Tales from the Darkside: Seasons of Belief

Feature-length horror films have their work cut out for them trying to sustain scares and tension for 90 minutes. The advantage of the anthology format is you really only need one good scare to be successful.

"Seasons of Belief," written and directed by Michael McDowell, benefits from the short running length. On Christmas Eve, two children ask their parents to tell them a story, and their father (E.G. Marshall) obliges with a scary tale about a creature known as the Grither. The children naturally get scared, but the Grither is just a story.

Right?

"Seasons of Belief" works by building anticipation. In a touch that hearkens to Lovecraft's "The Call of Cthulu," saying the Grither's name summons it, we're told, and the more you say it, the stronger its pull toward you is. As it hears its name, its ears grow bigger until they're big enough to use as wings.

But we don't see this. It's all off screen, suggested by the story told by the parents, and the children's imaginations, and ours, run wild. Strange noise happen around the house. Is it the Grither or just the wind? Who did the dad talk to on the phone? Can the parents be trusted?

The conclusion happens more or less as expected, but the effect is quite strong, making "Seasons of Belief" one of the scarier episodes of the show.

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