13: Fear is Real Episode 1
“Meet the Mastermind”
Original Airdate: 7 January 2009
In the premiere episode of Sam Raimi's new CW reality show, we are taken deep into the haunted bowels of the Louisiana bayou. As we watch our 13 unlucky contestants being bussed into the heart of the woods, The Mastermind gives us an overview of the show in a gravelly Saw voice. The contestants will be dumped in a decrepit cabin and asked to play “games.” The losers will go on to compete against each other in an “execution” round, the loser of which “dies.”
We meet a handful of contestants: Leah, the fraidy-cat; Lauren, the ditzy blonde; Laura, a whiney girl with abandonment issues; Cody, a mohawked “ghost hunter” looking for a good scare; Steffanie, who thinks she has a sixth sense; Kelly, a Jesus freak; and Nasser, whose nickname is “Show.”
The contestants are settling in when a crash outside unsettles them. A ransom note has been axed to a tree: “Answer the phone.” The group goes back inside, discovers a cell phone ringing from beneath the floorboards. The Mastermind has a game for them. Twelve of them pair off; one elects to stay behind (Cody, who we learn is “safe” from execution because of this). One member of each team is led into the woods, where they are blindfolded and bound to chairs. Their partners are then sent into the woods to find them. The last pair to match up and find their way back is put on the execution block.
In the morning, Nasser finds a rusted cage containing an evil-looking box. The Mastermind’s message tells them this is the Death Box. Whoever can sneak the box out of the cage without being caught becomes The Mastermind’s secret killer, and gets to kill off three contestants (I am guessing over the course of the series). But if the secret killer is caught, he automatically goes to the execution round. So now the contestants are super-paranoid. Steffanie sneaks away to steal the box, only to hide it in the woods, thinking that if no one has it, she can feel safe. But it only makes her more paranoid, as the rest of the group discover someone took it. So Steffanie sneaks back to the cage and returns the Death Box. These contestants are not very observant, if Steffanie can do this twice, in broad daylight, within a matter of hours, without getting caught.
Dig It or Bury It?
Gotta say, I am not enthralled. I like the idea of a true horror-based reality show. Not just gross-out stunts like Fear Factor or chasing ghosts like… well, like every other scary reality show. This one totally has that slasher-movie vibe. Unfortunately it feels like they didn’t have enough content for an hour-long show. To make it worse, the characters are bo-ring. No one to root for, no one to love to hate, not even anyone to flat-out hate. I don’t like Leah because she whines a lot and cries at everything. That just makes her annoying.
Tonight’s execution challenge was being buried alive. Lauren and Kelly each go into their own cheaply constructed coffin. The Mastermind’s “minions” hammer them in, lower them into the ground, and bury them. After a time, The Mastermind announces that the first one to find her way out “lives.” Kelly kicks out the base, squirms out, and rises from the grave, leaving Lauren to her death. Mwahahahaha.
Even though the producers show dirt falling through the cracks of the coffin and on top of each girl, I’m pretty damn certain these girls were not actually buried. I don’t think this show can afford the production insurance necessary to bury them for realsies. Someone please prove me wrong!
Leah, the cry-baby, wakes up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom (or, in this case, go to the woods). Some poor P.A. making barely minimum wage (plus mileage!) is dressed in black and creeping through the forest a la Jason Voorhes. Leah loses her shit and just starts screaming and crying until some of her compatriots come find her. Interesting to note, three people come “rescue” her – all girls. Grow a pair, guys.
Also, to illustrate who has been “killed” in each episode, photos of the contestants tacked to a corkboard are crossed out with red lipstick. Very crazy psycho-killer Silence of the Lambs.
When the group rises after the execution, they discover the Death Box is missing again. We don’t know who took it this time – and frankly, I don’t care. But apparently the group spends a large amount of the next episode debating and worrying over who might have the Magic Mystery Box. We do get a taste of what the next execution ceremony will be – something about face-eating rats. Mmm, tastes like chicken.