Thursday, March 19, 2015

TV One's Fear Files: More Ghosts, Faux Romance & Face Palming

I gave the October premiere of TV One's The Fright Night Files an attentive viewing and an honest review. I was far from impressed and deeply disappointed. When I saw the commercial and read about the network's next installment re-titled, Fear Files, which, according to the press release, had a "positive viewer and social media response," I sighed with dread but held on to the piece of needle thread that proposed some wild notion that maybe Fear Files wouldn't be as much of a hard flop.


"For The Love Of Lockwood Too"
Starring Nadine Ellis, Sean Blakemore, and Lynn Whitfield

The saga of Lockwood (Blakemore) continues on from Fright Night Files when poor Marla (Eva Marcille) was basically devoured by Lockwood's love slave haze she put him under by accidentally using too much of Madame Mabry's (Whitfield) "massive thirst" potion.

As Lockwood tries to move on and meets a beautiful woman at a bar named Bianca (Ellis), he is plagued by aural/visual remnants of Marla. The potion still lingers in his being and puts a slight damper in his new budding relationship, but not enough to avoid way too drawn out scenes of "passion" and leisurely hand-holding walks about with stock R&B music to accompany.

While fondling Marla's lingerie from his former bedside drawer, Lockwood finds Mabry's card and meets her, putting this whole mess together as to why his high just won't come down. Oh, and Bianca's a detective investigating the disappearance of Marla and Lockwood's other squeeze prior, discovers him as a suspect yet continues to get it in while tailing his moves, catches him in his crazy while talking to a ghost Marla and manages not to shoot him in a struggle while she's inches away from his body.

Did she attend police academy with Steve Guttenberg? Why didn't she grab some gun lessons with Tackleberry?

I'm not being unfair when I say this Part 2 was probably worse than the first. Far too long of a segment and just plain old boring, Whitfield again is doing too much with no satisfying and highly predictable outcome.

"Mama's Boy"
Starring Robin Givens, Mishon Ratliff, and Clifton Powell

So let me get this straight? Elaine Channing (Givens) has permanent, distraught-face upon finding her fiance dead at a crime scene, questions her indifferent, Norman Bates-y son Marcus then, only three weeks later is totally enraptured with another guy?

I think we'd all love the remedy she found for grief TM.

Enter the dutiful Detective Owen March (Powell) who's going to find out what's going on. But Elaine and her obnoxious compulsion to manipulate and seduce every man she comes across is a smokescreen for her own madness. "Mama's Boy" certainly wins points for a twist that disrupts the simplicity of the tale, but alas suffers from some undeveloped plot points and character motivations that could've been stretched a tad more if we weren't forced to watch almost an hour (with commercials) of  the muddled shenanigans of Lockwood. Due to a healthy resume, Givens and Powell are watchable even if the material is cheated by time.

Starring Columbus Short and Erica Hubbard

Short plays City Councilman Harvey Jordan, a man, not very surprising to some of us, in desperate need of Olivia Pope while being questioned aggressively by a reporter Kelisia Waters (Hubbard) looking to make a connection between fires on a city block where people lost their lives while the vacant debris is being brushed over to build a fancy stadium.

Because she's cute, Harvey asks her out with the promise of letting her do all the digging she needs. And what follows is another unnecessary possible romance subplot that is neither interesting or sexy. But Kelisia's true purpose is to make an honest man out of Harvey by putting him in the public eye as the good politician, therefore, someone she can stand cooking a birthday dinner for. Or is it?

Meanwhile, Harvey's having trouble sleeping, finding his bed glows with an amber tint from time and time with visions of a human shape in the shadows; a possible moral indication that money and power never erases the inevitable comeuppance if gotten by treacherous maneuvers. But like many genre tales, not all is what it seems. Not surprisingly, more secrets are uncovered and all those supernatural experiences Harvey is having finally comes to a head.

Final assessment: "Lockwood Too" was the sequel no one asked for. "Mama's Boy" could've been a solid psychological thriller character study of a woman's tragic relationship with her son but sadly wasn't. And "Fire" didn't even try to be original and I'm so over this. TV One already manages to be heavy handed with their "dangerous romance" type programming and as a horror fan, "playing it safe" does not cut it for me. But maybe that is the point. Fear Files is not for horror fans. But the real problem is that these anthologies can't even manage to be good. It elicits neither fright nor fear and just manages to be frustrating and unwatchable with a collection of actors that radiate zero chemistry amongst one another.

Dear TV One, either just stop or hire Black writers and directors who've been slaying the horror genre with their talents. They do exist.

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