Fear Itself – The Circle (01/31/09)

Two little girls are trick-or-treating.  At their last house — although that might not have been the original plan — they are taken inside where they see a coven of women chanting and writing in a book using their own blood as ink.  The blonde says, “Tonight we settle the score . . . . he chose a life with her over life with me.” She puts a dot of blood on each little girl’s forehead, then hands them the book.  The girls are then engulfed in, what appears to be, swirling black liquorice. [1]  They scream in horror because what they really had a strange sudden craving for was curry.  Because of the dot.  See.  Hmmmm.  Moving on . . .

Meanwhile, at a cabin in the woods, writer Brian and Lisa are looking to spend a little quality time together. As they start making out, there is a knock at the door.  Brian opens it, and his agent Anita walks in.  She says his publisher George Clayton [2] and Kate are on the way also.  In a typically underwritten female role, I have no idea why Kate is there.  Is she George’s wife?  Business associate?

This seems to be an intervention for Brian who’s first book Blood Thirsty sold 5,000,000 copies in a year [3]. His agent and publisher want to know when the next book will be ready. They are interrupted by another knock at the door.  It is the newly-dotted little girls who hand over the book from the coven and disappear.

Anita is thrilled to see the first page says The Circle by Robert Collins (Brian’s nom de plume).  She believes Brian set up this elaborate hoax to give them his new manuscript.  Everyone selflessly congratulates him for overcoming his writer’s block — the three guests who live on commissions from his work and his wife who benefits also.

Anita begins reading aloud from the book which seems to be autobiographical.  The book describes a man bringing together a circle of friends and Kate says to Lisa, “I knew you couldn’t keep a secret!”  So she is suggesting the group planned this get-together as Brian was writing the first paragraph of his book that no one knew existed?  That’s some good planning there.

Brian accuses them of creating this book to coax him into writing again.  Anita continues reading that “a suffocating darkness settled around the cabin, trapping them inside, and sealing their fate forever.”  George looks out the window and sees a tangible darkness forming just as the book described.  It’s all fun and games until George is yanked into the darkness and killed, leaving Kate without a ride home.

To find out what will happen next, Lisa continues reading.  The book predicted that “the editor” would be the first to die, although George was his publisher, not editor.  Confusing matters, Brian says this killer darkness was a character in his first novel Blood Thirsty.  It attacked a small town in Maine, kind of a more opaque mist.  Anita picks up The Circle to see what will happen next, but Brian said it is the plot from Blood Thirsty playing out. So which book is it?

Kate starts yopping up black vomit, so they lock her in the bathroom.  This is pretty classic as they maneuver her into the bathroom, then use the old chair-jammed-under-the-door-knob security measure.  That is a clever, efficient, time-honored, make-shift way to secure a door.  But ya really need it on the side that the door opens into.  These chowder-heads put it outside the door which opens into the bathroom.

So, they kill Kate.  Anita gets infected and they kill her too.  Brian starts showing symptoms, so Lisa ties him to a chair.  The blonde from the coven breaks in and holds a knife to Lisa’s neck.  She says her name is  Robbie Collins — Brian must have chosen his alias in honor of her — way to keep the affair under the radar, genius!

As they fight, Brian writes a new ending while still strapped to a chair.  Lisa prevails and reads from the book, “And everything returned to the way it had been at 9:45 that Halloween night.”  That passage appears over and over.

Time unwinds so that we are back at the point where the girls knock on the door.  Brian is cursed to relive this night for eternity.  Is that a reasonable punishment for dumping that psycho witch?  And why did Robbie choose a punishment doomed other innocent people, including the two little girls, to the same purgatory?

And did she really choose it?  Brian scribbled the ending to the book.  Resetting to 9:45 makes sense, but he didn’t have the time or reason to write it over and over like Jack Nicholson in The Shining.

Overall, another fine episode which never even aired (despite having an air date on IMDb).  Fear Itself ends leaving with the same impression I got from Night Visions.  A few clunkers, but overall, a good series well worth watching.  Sadly, the fact that both of these got canceled after one season just tells me there is no place for anthology horror on broadcast TV.


  • [1] Dictionary.com says this is the British spelling.  Spellcheck seems to prefer licorice.
  • [2] I assumed this was a reference to George Clayton Johnson, but seems it pretty alone and random.  None of the other Southern California Sorcerers seem to rate a shout-out.
  • [3] By comparison, Stephen King’s Carrie only sold 1 million in its first year.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.