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Fear Itself: “Family Man” – 7

Director – Ronny Yu

Cast – Colin Ferguson, Clifton Collins Jr., Josie Davis, Nicole Leduc, Gig Morton, Michael St. John Smith, Terence Kelly, Brent Stait

Release Year – 2008

Reviewed by John of the Dead

Bride of Chucky? Whatever. Ronny Yu will forever have a special place in my heart thanks to Freddy vs. Jason, and his entry into the Fear Itself series also happens to be one of the better ones as well. In “Family Man” we follow Dennis Mahoney, an all-around American dad who regularly attends church with is family and works extra to provide them luxuries. His seemingly perfect life will soon be flipped upside down when he suffers a terrible car crash. Caught between life and death, he finds his way back to life, but awakens in the body of a serial killer named Richard Brautigan, AKA “The Family Man Killer”. To make matters worse, Brautigan is now in Mahoney’s body and has taken over Mahoney’s life and family. With time running out before he is executed for Brautigan’s crimes, Dennis must find a way to save his family from Richard’s murderous intent.

I enjoyed this storyline because its title character went from having such a great life to living a despicable one within a short period of time, and having to go from what he previously had to the life he was forced to live would be pretty horrific if it happened to me. The majority of the story plays on Dennis trying to find a way to reclaim his life, but when things look doubtful in that area he focuses on simply saving his family and not worrying about himself anymore. This simple story takes us on a small adventure that came well-written by “Carnivale” writer Daniel Knauf and provided plenty of horror, both in physical and mental capacity. Watching Brautigan toy with Dennis was heartbreaking and was written in a manner that allowed us to put ourselves in Dennis’ shoes. Most importantly, the pressure cooker is on as Dennis only has so much time to stop Brautigan before he is either sentenced to life in prison or given the death penalty – both ending with him not being able to save his family.

Ronny Yu did well directing this piece, enveloping us into the horror that Dennis is facing and the tension that arises as his window of time to save his family quickly slips away. His execution of the conflict and tension was the best he had to offer for the experience, and rightfully so as it was enough to secure a positive 45 minute film. There are no actual kills shown onscreen but that did little to hinder the horror, and in a sense only added to the tension during the film’s horrifying closing sequence. The acting performances were positive and the set/location selections were good for a TV flick, making for one of the few Fear Itself episodes worth watching.

Overall, “Family Man” gets things done without using kills or gore to sell the film, but instead relies on conflict and tension to secure a positive watch in one of the few Fear Itself episodes I’d recommend.

Rating: 7/10

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