Masters of Horror: Family

So far, the second season seems to be attempting to make up for the mistakes the first season made, and the two directors with the worst episodes of the first season, end up creating better episodes this time around. Landis whose episode, “Deer Woman” was basically a lightweight horror effort, makes up for it with the excellent installment “Family.” Harold Thompson loves his family. He lives in his large house in the middle of a bright suburb, and he keeps his family closely guarded and drawn away from human eyes, and there’s a good reason for that.

In Landis’ demented installment, he once again reveals the monster neatly tucked away in the old-fashioned American suburbs, the Americana where we meet a suburban Norman Bates. Thompson builds his family by basically killing poor victims, and burns their flesh off with acid. Thompson, in his mind, is creating a family he wants. The portrait of the man who creates a family against the innocent victims’ wills is awfully morbid as he props their skeletons up (even a child skeleton) and engages in conversation and arguments with them.

But when the Fullers arrive into the suburb, Thompson finds an infatuation for his new neighbor’s wife. With Landis’ installment we’re given surreal insight into his creature as we watch Thompson as a sexually depraved individual with awfully funny delusions with his neighbors and potential victims. A sick touch is that he imagines bathing these people when actually he’s melting the skin from their bones with acid. The performances by (the gorgeous) Meredith Monroe and Matt Keeslar as the inept couple next door are entertaining.

They seem to serve a purpose to Thompson, and he’s intent on fulfilling it whether they like it or not. Landis completely dupes the audience, as does writer Hanley providing a twist we assume is utterly predictable but then takes us for surprise with a shocking finisher to what is a step up for Landis. This is a big step up for the man who gave us the comedy episode with a horror theme “Deer Woman.” This time, his focus is on the horror of it all with a slight comedic touch, and “Family” is an excellent installment, and one I’ll look out for on home release.