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"Fear Itself" Family Man (2008)

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13 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Solid as I didn't expect it to be.

Author: Dawn_Of_The_Hippies
19 June 2008

Finally, the first great episode of Fear Itself. After a mediocre first episode, and an average second one, The Family Man is really the one I was waiting for. Who would've thought that Ronny Yu (Freddy Vs Jason), would make such a great episode? I know I f*king didn't.

The Family Man is your usual body swap plot idea, but with a Horrifying twist. Dennis is your typical good guy, living the American dream, with a good job, and a cute wife and kids. While going to work on a Sunday, an unexpected car crash occurs, leaving him a bloody mess. Turns out the accident was caused by a serial killer nicknamed The Family Man. When Dennis meets this Family Man in the hospital, he learns that both of them actually died minutes ago. Several moments later, Dennis is awakened, only to find out that he is in the body of the killer. And the killer, well, you probably know by now. The script is actually well done; I don't have any complaints. The dialog, especially the exchanges between The Family Man and Dennis are actually good. The way the Family Man handles things while being in Dennis's body is bold, very intense interactions with the wife and kids. I'm really surprised at some of the things that NBC showed in this one, very good. And the ending...fantastic. Predictable to some degree, yes. But I loved it; the way a Horror movie should end with this type of context, and not with some hollywoodized happy ending.

The acting in this episode is very surprising, but not from Clifton Collin's standpoint, he is as great as always (the guy is heavily underrated), but from Colin Ferguson. The change between being a loving Christian devoted parent and husband, to a p*ssed off psychotic is very impressive. The kids are also good.

In the end, this is a great episode, directed by Ronny Yu out of all people (he was made great Kung Fu movies, but mediocre American movies). For some reason, seeing James Roday in next weeks episode as a killer is really, really ridiculous. But, we'll just have to see. The Family Man is the best episode yet, a solid 8.

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8 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Finally, the Series Has a Winning Episode

Author: gavin6942 from United States
23 June 2008

The perfect husband and father dies in a tragic car crash, but is brought back to life in the hospital. Unfortunately, it turns out a vicious serial killer died at the same time and through God's Will, they have switched bodies upon their return. Now the killer walks freely through the perfect man's home while the innocent parent rots in jail.

This episode was amazing. Up to this point, I figured the series would be largely forgettable and be canceled in the first year. Maybe John Landis or Stuart Gordon would make a good story, but overall the series would try viewers' patience. Ronny Yu, whom I underestimated, proves me wrong: this story is well-written, well-presented. Perfect editing, pacing, suspense... characters I actually care about. And a sense of terror that was absent in the other episodes (and many other horror tales).

I have to give credit to the two main characters and the actors who portrayed them. Essentially, both of them are playing two different people -- sometimes mild-manned and loving and other times violent and destructive. I was more than just a little impressed with the versatility of the acting. Some people have difficulty switching mindsets from one film to another, but here we have two actors switching psyches in one movie.

There isn't much use in seeing "Fear Itself" episodes more than once... at least not without a sizable break in between. But this is an exception. I'd gladly rewatch this with a friend, even now that I know the ending (which may reduce the suspense). Be sure to check it out... up to this point, this is the episode that is going to sell the series if any of them are.

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:


Author: Claudio Carvalho from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
18 February 2015

The bank executive Dennis Mahoney (Colin Ferguson) is a religious man dedicated to his wife Kathy Mahoney (Josie Rebecca Davis) and children. One Sunday afternoon, Dennis need to go to the bank and has a car accident. Dennis is near death but survives; however he awakes in the body of the serial-killer Richard "Family Man" Brautigan (Clifton Collins Jr.). Soon he learns that they have switched bodies and Brautigan is living with his family. Further, he needs to find a way to save his family from the deranged killer.

"Family Man" is a cruel tale "Fear Itself", with a good but predictable story of a good man that somehow switches body with a serial-killer. The despair of Dennis to save his family is depicted by a great performance of Clifton Collins Jr. The predictable conclusion is very sad and without redemption. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "Family Man"

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

face off

Author: trashgang from Midian
18 May 2010

The director from Freddy vs Jason gives us the first episode of Fear Itself really worth watching. The editing is sometimes special, and the story line works. Oh yes, I stated it in the summary as face off, everybody knows that movie, because it reminded me of the basics of that movie. After a car accident two bodies transform into each other by which I mean. The body and face stays the same only the character of the other person changes, the killer becomes the dad and visa versa. Again, no gore appears but this time the red stuff flows on a regular base and that gives us satisfaction like in the Masters Of Horror series. Let me say, you don't have to see blood to have a horror but then you will have to get the creeps. Also you can see were it's going but I can say that that will be the main issue in Fear Itself, it's all predictable. But this one never bored and worked out fine.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

A creepy beginning with a predictable ending

Author: Cameron Moore from United States
3 July 2008

The story is that a "Family Man" had a car crash by a serial killer and both almost died. Both wake up in each others bodies. The begging was creepy because the crash was dramatic and creepy. I didn't like anything else after that because the plot dragged and you knew what was going to happen from the beginning. The reason why I gave this episode a 7/10 was because the effects were awesome and the acting was descent. This would have to be my 2nd least favorite episode. It's better than "Spooked". I would recommend it since it seems like everyone on this website likes this episode besides me. Overall I would give the episode "Family Man" and 7/10.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Not A Third Strike

Author: ricardovs27 from Brazil
15 July 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Finally, this series hits a good one.

The plot is a good one, although formulaic and used up; the actors deliver and the ending is awesome, worthy of EC Comics.

Ronny Yu, from "The Bride of Chucky" gives a lot of energy to the talky and slow burn script. The identity swap between a straight arrow and a criminal is always interesting to watch, if the execution is right.

And the Asian director nailed it, with a lot of tension, even with the major twist being seen miles away. Clifton Collins Jr. owns it and dominate every scene.

Well, the series avoided the third strike, with the first episode worth watching.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Most likely the best of the series

Author: jdollak from United States
25 October 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I've seen most of the episodes of this season, and it's mostly been a letdown. The direction has been on-and-off acceptable, the writing has usually been sub-par, and I leave each episode wondering why I'm willing to keep watching the series.

But this episode was different. While I wasn't drawn in immediately, the story raises enough possibilities that I was curious about the direction the story could take off in. The ending twist was not insulting - there was just enough time that you could see it coming. This seems trivial, but it goes a long way toward making the whole production feel like it was a successful story.

The acting was fine. The direction was mostly fine. There were a few sequences of fast cuts that I didn't care for, but that may have been due to the censors.

I don't think I'd be likely to re-watch the episode. There wasn't much depth to the story, but it was probably the most intelligently-written work on this show.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

"Leave Him Alone, He's THE FAMILY MAN - If You Push Him Too Far, He Just Might..."

Author: Christopher T. Chase ( from Arlington, VA.
22 June 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

But seriously, this guy is not to be confused with the guy from the Mike Oldfield song, which Hall and Oates had a huge hit with. It looks like this less gore/more character thing really agrees with Mick Garris and Company, and I sure hope they keep it up.

For some people, discovering that the director of THE FAMILY MAN is Ronny Yu, dynamic kung- fu/action director who went Hollywood to helm the B-listers BRIDE OF CHUCKY and FREDDY VS. JASON, will not come as very good news. But "FEAR" not - I have always believed that Yu is a solid talent who only needed some worthy material, and the script here is by none other than gloom-and-doom specialist Daniel Knauf, who gave us the outstanding chronicle of creeping dread that was HBO's undeservedly maligned series CARNIVALE. Knauf takes the opportunity to create a really twisted and dark satire and runs screaming with it!

A sharp subversion of all that is the American Dream (now more like the American SCREAM), THE FAMILY MAN starts off with a guy who IS literally the ultimate "family man", Dennis Mahoney (Colin Ferguson of the Sci-Fi Channel series EUREKA), a handsome, strapping, devoutly churchgoing pillar of the community, who has a lovely wife and two beautiful children, and THE ideal life to boot. The set-up in the opener is so treacly and NICE, you just know that some monumental dog crap is about to hit the proverbial fan.

Actually, it's Dennis that gets hit, at an intersection when he's blindsided by an errant old pickup truck, while yakking with the missus on his cell. (Let that be a lesson, kids - no matter what a good person you are, CELL PHONES AND DRIVING DON'T MIX!) At the hospital, Dennis awakens to see his family in the waiting room and tries to get their attention, but finds that he can't. You see, there's this little inconvenient snag he's run into. He's kind of...DEAD.

Well, he has a new "buddy" to break it down for him...the guy in the pick-up who hit him. His name is Brautigan (Clifton Collins, Jr.), and it just so happens that HE'S a family man, too...well actually, he's THE "Family Man." As in the serial killer responsible for butchering several entire families and videotaping the horror for posterity. Lingering in between worlds, he shows Dennis evidence of their deaths in the hospital ER and then vanishes, leaving him stunned and fading into unconsciousness.

Then, unexpectedly, Dennis wakes up again, but he can't move. He's handcuffed to his hospital bed, and one glimpse in the mirror is all he needs to explain why...

He IS Dennis Mahoney in spirit, but that spirit is now BRAUTIGAN'S body. Oh, but the fun is already beginning, since even if you haven't seen this episode yet, you've probably already guessed where serial killer Brautigan's rotten soul is...

And that's about all you'll be able to second-guess about this episode. You don't even want to KNOW how it all you? You DO??? Well, watch for the rerun...And keep the smelling salts handy. You and Grandma are both gonna need them.

The best part about this episode besides the pitch-black satire in the script is the golden opportunity given to both Ferguson and Collins to play against type. It's fun to see Colin with his 'Every-guy' chiseled good looks, playing a psychopath just THISFAR away from losing his marbles, while Collins, who's like a slightly less-severe looking relative of Steve Buscemi, mines his trapped hero for every ounce of angst and sympathy he can muster, and does a brilliant job.

And that ending...M. Night Shyamalan will gnash his teeth for not coming up with this one. The basic plot is very similar to another film due out this summer called POSSESSION with Lee Pace and Sarah Michelle Gellar. But I wonder if the ending of that film will be as smartly "TWILIGHT ZONE"-ish as THE FAMILY MAN'S is.

FEAR ITSELF is batting at least two for three with me. Let's see if they can keep the momentum going...

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4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Good Episode

Author: Michael_Elliott from Louisville, KY
9 July 2008

Fear Itself: Family Man (2008)

*** (out of 4)

A clean-cut, religious family man is involved in an auto crash with a truck driven by a serial killer. The two men are near death and rushed to the hospital where their spirits are brought back but they end up in each other's body. This is the best entry in the series that I've seen so far and director Yu (Freddy vs. Jason, Bride of Chucky) handles the material very well and delivers a fun little film. The story itself is the most interesting aspect and thankfully the screenplay doesn't treat it as a by the numbers type thing. There are some nice twists along the way including the ending, which works very well and it's isn't as happy as you'd expect to see in a movie like this. There are a few bloody scenes including a good one during the bumble bee song but for the most part the screenplay goes for atmosphere, which is captured by the director. There are still some flaws throughout the film including some strange pacing but overall this movie delivers some good. The performances also stand out and both leading men turn in good performances.

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Stand-out episode

Author: Woodyanders ( from The Last New Jersey Drive-In on the Left
27 July 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Affable family man Dennis Mahoney (an excellent and engaging performance by Colin Ferguson) switches bodies with vicious and cunning serial killer Richard Brautigan (a fine and credible portrayal by Clifton Collins Jr.) after having a near-death experience. Mahoney must find a way while locked behind bars to stop Brautigan from bumping off his family next. Director Ronny Yu, working from an ingenious and involving script by Daniel Knauf, relates the gripping story at a snappy pace, does an ace job of creating and sustaining a tense, creepy, and unnerving atmosphere, ably milks plenty of nerve-wracking suspense from the crafty premise (an uncomfortable dinner table set piece in particular is truly unsettling), and delivers a shockingly brutal and violent climax that's topped off with a devastatingly downbeat surprise ending. The stellar acting from the bang-up cast keeps everything humming: Collins and Ferguson play exceptionally well off each other, with tip-top support from Josie Davis as Mahoney's sweet wife Kathy, Stephen Lobo as no-nonsense defense attorney John Amir, Nicole Leduc as cute daughter Courtney, and Gig Morton as wide-eyed son Sean. John Spooner's sharp cinematography provides an impressively polished look. Jeff Roona's spooky score does the skin-crawling trick. One of this show's strongest hours.

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