The Horror of '13: Fear is Real'
The Horror of '13: Fear is Real'
John Kubicek
John Kubicek
Senior Writer, BuddyTV
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By Susan Young, Film.com


It’s the first week of January and reality has already set in.

We’ve gotten a first peek at The Bachelor – did there seem to be an overabundance of facial work on these women? Some were scarier than a midnight prowl through a bayou cemetery. Even spookier is that sweet bachelor Jason Mesnick actually gave a couple of roses out to some of the more frightening ones.

And Ashton Kutcher and Tyra Banks have teamed for a show about beauty. Kutcher seems obsessed by good looks, perhaps because he’s drippin’ in ‘em. But always with an odd twist. Not to go all psycho-babble, but it must be a little surreal having a twin brother with mild cerebral palsy that makes him less attractive to society’s standards while you are constantly being held up as a model of physical perfection. At least while working out his issues, Kutcher also picks up a handsome paycheck.

Kutcher ponders geeks, beauties and inner glory in both his reality shows, with ABC’s True Beauty showing just how ugly some people can be behind the facade.

So, after being sort of intrigued by True Beauty and bored out of my gourd by The Bachelor, it was time to take a look at the CW’s 13: Fear is Real. And no, we aren’t talking about the real possibility of the struggling Can’t Watch channel’s rumored demise.

The cellar dweller network hasn’t been a factor in a very long time. Gossip Girl is the only show that keeps the CW lights on. America’s Next Top Model has been slipping off the gotta-watch charts for a while now. And there hasn’t been a truer title in the world than Everybody Hates Chris, because this is a fantastic comedy that has languished on the Can’t Watch network for years now.

There’s some major hating going on over in Chris’ neighborhood.

So, really, from an already shallow pool of viewers, who’s going to watch a show about 13 people who think they are living in a real life horror flick?

OK, so I bit.

The cheese gets spread early on, as we watch pages of the Bible go flipping past, pushed by an evil wind that stops on the Biblical reference to the Mark of the Beast – 666.

How much money can our fearful and fearful contestant make if they become the lone survivor? $66,666, or about six bucks and six cents after taxes.

The insanity begins early, with these people rolling through the Louisiana bayou in a bus bound for a cabin in hell. For some reason, some of the participants buy into the conceit that they are in some sort of actual danger.

Hello. Camera people. Production crew. A network that can’t afford a lawsuit in case anyone really gets hurt.

Now, we know just like a trip to the Halloween haunted house, people will get grabbed and spooked. And maybe the tying up with belts and gagged was a bit brutal and the live burial a little extreme. Still, it takes the edge off early on when you know these people aren’t in any peril apart from sharing small quarters with a girl who keep screaming like she’s trying out for a job for the local production of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Then you have the convoluted ploy about a death box, and someone in the group taking it and becoming the killer and, wait, we just nodded off.

The only thing this show could possibly offer was campy, creepy fun. Just how weirded out can we make these people? Having Sam Raimi at the wheel of the bus to hell made it seem as if it might actually be worth watching.

Don’t get conned into it. If you want scary, check out those women clawing and scratching their way into Mesnick’s heart, or the truly spooky beauties who need some compassion injected into those sculptured bods.

13: Fear is Real premieres tonight at 8pm on the CW.

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