Fear Itself – The Spirit Box (01/17/09)

Becca is helping Shelby study for a science test and in one minute, we get a huge amount of info dumped on us:  It is Halloween, Becca is dressed as an angel, Shelby is dressed as a witch, Shelby’s teacher has the hots for her, Becca is going to Taiwan, they are Wiccans, and Shelby’s mother is dead.  It is handled well, though.

Becca suggests they use a Ouija Board to try to contact Shelby’s dead mother.  Shelby thinks that’s lame, but instead suggests a not-at-all-lame Spirit Box which she learned to make from one of her books — Wiccan book, not science book, I suspect.  They whip out a couple of X-Acto Knives which are used for the first time in history to make something other than a fake ID.

They paste cut-out letters onto a used pizza box adorned with YES & NO, pentagrams, a pointer, and a drop of blood from each of them.  It looks suspiciously like a DYI Ouija Board.  Becca is not taking it seriously, but then the pointer slides across the box.  Or may it just slid on pepperoni grease.

The pointer spells out MLE which they interpret as their suicidal friend Emily D’Angelo or someone pretending to be Emily D’Angelo, which would still be a pretty good trick.  They ask MLE how she died and the pointer goes to MRDR.  When they ask who killed her, the pointer slide to the corner marked L8TR because mystical beings are notoriously stingy with information (Obi-Wan, Gandalf, etc).

After a couple of eerie incidents (the eeriest being a leering teacher, Mr. Drake), the girls head out to the woods to see if MLE will be more chatty because there will be a “stronger signal” at the site where she died.  After finding the site where she died, Becca runs back to get the Pizza Box.  Nevermind the fact that not initially bringing the Pizza Box is like going outside the strip club for better reception, but not taking my phone.  Shelby goes down to the river to wash her hands.  As she washes up, a pair of hands grabs hers.  Becca and Shelby decide to call it a night, which it clearly is.

Shelby’s father is the sheriff who found MLE’s body.  That night Shelby goes to his office and steals the autopsy report.  MLE had sedatives in her blood when they fished her out of the river.  So maybe someone didn’t want her to put up a struggle, or maybe Bill Cosby had a gig in town that night.

Someone in a cloak and bird mask leaves a note for Shelby that says “Let the dead sleep in peace.”  Becca gets sick and coughs up a necklace with “Emily” on the pendent.

The girls take the pizza box to MLE’s grave that night.  They ask MLE who murdered her.  The wind blows up as the pointer starts moving.  It goes to MRDR and Shelby says, “Yes, we already know that.”  Wait for it . . . it continues on to spell out MR DRAKE.  That’s really kind of beautiful.  Any show that just puts a little effort into being clever is a winner by me.

fispiritbox09Shelby’s father stubbornly refuses to reopen the case based the the testimony of the Pizza Box, so the girls do their own investigation.  Shelby steals a key to Drake’s house. Shelby sees bird masks like the one the stalker was wearing, and finds a bottle pills like the ones that were found in MLE’s blood.

Of course, Drake comes home early.  When he finds Shelby hiding in a closet, she pretends she broke in because she wanted to have the sex with him.  Anna Kendrick is just great here, reeling in this horny old dope until she is close enough to tase him.  He falls down the stairs and breaks his neck — with the head twisted 180 degrees around. Again, bravo!

One month later, Shelby goes back to the graveyard.  She lays flowers on MLE’s grave and says she hopes she can rest.  She discovers the gravestone is a fake and calls Becca in Taiwan.  Yada yada, Becca orchestrated the whole thing,  She killed MLE, rigged the Pizza Box, stalked Shelby, and pretended to hack up the necklace.  All because Mr. Drake had paid too much attention to MLE, and Becca was jealous.

Another fine episode for the series.  Nothing really new here, but some clever bits and solid direction carry it along.  It would have been sunk without excellent performances from both Shelby and Becca.  The actresses were 24 and 25 when this aired, but were completely believable as high school students (at least to some who graduated a long time ago, and who they wouldn’t have spoken to anyway).

Post-Post:

  • Despite having an airdate on IMDb, other sources say this episode did not air in the original run.
  • Drake is lucky he was not caught with one of his students — he might have gotten probation.  No wait, he’s a man so he’d be fired, put on a sex offenders list, and sent to prison.
  • On the plus side, his head would still face forward; just not during sex.
  • The pointer in a Ouija Board is called a planchette, but dang if I was going to type that every time.  Also, a cell phone is used in its place for this episode.
  • Three actors — Jessica Parker Kennedy, Mark Pellegrino, Samantha Hill — were in Bad Meat.  Gotta be a reason for that.
  • Available on YouTube.

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