|Index||3 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Minor Spoilers - 'Crouch End' is one of Stephen King's scariest short
stories. A labyrinth of tall cobblestone buildings loom over an
American couple as they attempt to make an important appointment... in
the scary end of London (of course). The town of Crouch End terrifies
the hearts of men, even those cab drivers who always seem game. They
speak of 'thin spots' in the town, points where our earthly dimension
meets another that is unknown and utterly terrifying. What chance do an
American couple have? Well, about forty minutes or so.
The Stephen King short story on which the episode is based draws from H.P. Lovecraft and his Cthulhu mythos, stories of unfathomable beasts of pure evil. It is highly atmospheric, full of little details about the odd town, developing the 'out of town' anxiety of tourists into an uncontrollable psychological assault. It is a great, quick read and one that is genuinely spooky.
The episode, however, is a frustratingly poor version of an impressive story. It is a difficult short to adapt, with imagination fueling our personal vision of twilight terror. Replace the power of 'the word' with awful CGI, overbearing editing, and horror-movie cliché and the story doesn't function. The layered narrative in which King's short is told (the American woman recounts her experience to a Police Officer, who has his own strange happening) provides the platform for a simple and memorable twist. The 'Nightmares and Dreamscapes' version excises the narrative of the Police Officer, and the original ending, and the ambiance that made the story work in the first place. The episode was shot in Melbourne, see the wide suburban streets and glaring daylight - unfortunately this has no visual parity to that of London-town (I hear it's cold there). The secondary performers try to do their best 'Brit' voice, but the old Okker tones always slip through. Who needs details anyway?
'Crouch End' isn't very good. Kids with claw hands? A cat with CGI damaged face? Monkey people? It just doesn't work like it should. I highly recommend reading the short story the episode was based on, it is far superior to the episode, and would take you about the same time to read.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I am very relieved to read other reviews on this particular instalment
that calls it the worst of the series. I am only two episodes in and
the first one absolutely had its merits and was appropriately Stephen
King. Crouch End starts out okay...although you can sense right away
just how cheesy and awful the main performances are (one significantly
worse than the other but more on that in a moment) and the concept for
the episode is intriguing and I was hopeful. Mid-way in the episode it
all falls apart and turns into a horribly campy mess that makes little
sense and I can hardly believe that Stephen King wrote this or would
approve this rendition of his work. I understand this is a TV
mini-series but the special effects are laughable at best and you
completely lose track of what's happening and you really don't care. It
has potential too being set in London and the idea of a thin line
between realities but it's like they got bored and just slapped
together some ridiculous ideas. Even the elements of horror or any sort
of fear they try to induce feels forced and obvious and doesn't add
anything at all to the story.
Eion Bailey is the husband. He's the better actor of the couple (by a million miles) but whatever he starts out as gets completely flushed by the terrible script. I'm not saying he's great in the role, even in the beginning, but he completely falls apart by the end and ends up being a 70's Drive-In star at best and that might be too much of a compliment. Claire Forlani is absolutely atrocious. I remember first seeing her in "Meet Joe Black" and I actually really liked that movie but she really is sort of drab in most of her roles. She is just awful in this. She looks wide eyed and ridiculous, delivers her lines with excruciatingly campy dialogue. Her chemistry with Bailey is awful and they only serve to make each other worse. That's harsh but they are truly bad, bad and more bad.
It shouldn't surprise me that director Mark Haber has very little experience behind the camera. He had done a handful of TV Movies and none of them familiar or worthy of mention. There is nothing creepy or scary about Crouch End. Worst of all there is nothing memorable or worthwhile here either. I am going to give it a 3 because it establishes itself decently enough taking into consideration that it is a TV mini-series instalment. I don't really have any expectations going into any of the Nightmares and Dreamscapes episodes but when you have decades of similar stories from Twilight Zone, Outer Limits, Alfred Hitchcock Presents and so on and so on. This was some sort of attempt at a nod to The Twilight Zone but it is a complete and utter mess and worth skipping while watching the series. I hope it only gets better because really it has to go up from this. 3/10
The career devoted Lonnie Freeman (Eion Bailey) and his wife Doris
Freeman (Claire Forlani) are in London in honeymoon. Loonie receives a
message from the important client Squales inviting the young couple to
have dinner with him in his house at Crouch End. While going to the
dinner party, Doris is advised by the cab driver to return from Crouch
End, which would be a thin spot in another dimension. Lonnie does not
accept the non-sense explanation and have a weird experience with
"Crouch End" seems to be a bad homage to "Twilight Zone". The mysterious story has a great atmosphere, but an absolutely disappointing conclusion. My vote is six.
Title (Brazil): "Crouch End"
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