Night Visions – Darkness (09/06/01)

nvdarkness14Our introduction to Lucius Winton is quick and to the point.  His house-keeper comes into his estate and sees that the vast lighting system he has installed is out.  She turns the lights back on and we see only Winton’s withered, radiated arm drooped from a chair streaming blood to the floor.  The end.

We get a great overhead tracking shot of the cubicle farm where Harlow Winton (Michael Rapaport) is toiling away in a soul-crushing job.  Kudos for the name of his company being F-Mart. [1]  He gets a Jif-Ex overnight package containing a letter informing him of the death of his great-uncle [2] Lucius.  He must attend the will reading to collect his inheritance.  On the plus side, an airline ticket is provided; on the downside, it literally says Oceanic Air.

Lucius’s attorney Matson informs Harlow he is the last of the line, the lone heir, the sole survivor.  He has inherited the 23-room estate with a monthly stipend of $25,000 . . . as long as he lives in the house.  Bwah-ha-ha-ha!


Why would Ticket Prepared By = Winton?

Thumbhead told us in the intro that the estate has 12 bedrooms and 9 bathrooms.  Assuming one kitchen, that leaves only one slot for a Living Room, Dining Room, Den and such rich-guy niceties as a Library, Art Gallery, Solarium, Butler’s Pantry, Billiard Room, Etc.  That must be one great-ass room.

Matson tells him that the old man had a pathological fear of the dark, hence the collective 5 billion watts of bulbs around every nook and cranny of the house. Harlow looks at pictures of the industries his uncle owned. Matson says that at one time, the family employed almost everyone in this town.  “Old time capitalists,” the episode’s writer — er, I mean — Harlow sneers.  “So they exploited the workers, huh?”  Being an idiot, he naturally assumes, “I guess the Wintons weren’t well-loved by the locals, huh?”  Because capitalist.

The attorney suggests that if he donated the house to the town, he would get a significant tax windfall.  I am neither H nor R Block, but I don’t see how this works if you have no income to off-set the taxes.  Yeah, he is getting the $25k/month stipend, but that ends if he unloads the house.  Must be one of those evil rich-guy tax scams that I don’t understand.  Winton is more interested in party-planning than tax-planning, anyway.

nvdarkness13As he settles in for his first night, he begins putting away his clothes. There are even bright lights in each drawer Winton opens.  One of them brightly illuminates a dead radiated rat.  When he turns off the light, he hears creepy sounds so sleeps with the lights on like a child.  Imagine if he had actually seen the menacing shadows that crept along the walls — he might have made a wittle pillow-fort.

Harlow calls in electricians to rewire the lights.  After just one night in the evil house constructed on the backs of the poor, down-trodden towns-people, he berates the workers, tells them they better call him “mister” and “you treat me with respect!” Because that’s how all rich people are.  Geez, is this a long-lost Rod Serling script?

As Harlow leafs through a scrapbook full of evil headlines like WINTON MAKES FINANCIAL HISTORY, BIGGEST STEEL SALE EVER, RAILWAY COMING TO ST ALBERT, WINTON MINES BOOST OUTPUT and WINTON BACKS CANAL, the menacing shadows advance on him in the now not-sufficiently well-lit room. How did that greedy son-of-a-bitch live with himself bringing cash, a rail line, more jobs and seaport to this little town? Oh, the humanity!

nvdarkness12Sadly Matson rings the doorbell before the creeping shadows reach Winton. He again stresses how Lucius Winton exploited the townspeople. He suggests that Winton is profiting from this and might like to donate the house to the city to ease his conscience. Winton quite appropriately tells him to buzz off. The idea might not seem so crazy when a few minutes later Winton actually sees the creepy shadows fry a rat.

Matson tries again, this time bringing a $70,000 offer for the $2,000,000 estate.  He again stresses how many people suffered to create Lucius Winton’s fortune.  He says over 700 were killed in the family’s coalmine, scores more died in the tenements where he was a slumlord.  Well OK, now I understand the hatred of the old man.  He was a liar, treated co-workers like crap, employed thousands in dangerous dehumanizing conditions.  I guess all would have been forgiven if he had created the iPhone.

Matson tells Harlow the shadows are the dark deeds and dark thoughts and dark hearts — the greed and evil of generations of his family manifested itself in the shadows like the oil slick that killed Tasha Yar.  BTW, what happened to all those generations that resulted in Harlow being the only survivor?

Yada Yada, Harlow builds a Rube Goldberg device to kill the shadows.  He ends up being blinded.  Instead of living in in perpetual lightness, he will live in perpetual darkness.  The big question is why he bothered to hire a cute nurse.

This is a perfectly adequate story brought down by the casting.  Michael Rapaport is an actor of Bill Paxtonian awfulness.  Like Paxton, he seems to be capable of portraying only one character convincingly — a grating obnoxious dick which I assume must be his true self.  I would like to think that is is why Rapaport’s annoying character on Prison Break was named Don Self — kudos to the producers for the in-joke.


  • [1] Presumably not a play on S-Mart, but funny on its own.
  • [2] Uncle = brother of a parent.  Great Uncle = brother of a grandparent.  Great Great Uncle = put you in his will.
  • Complete non-sequitur — a Chevy Avalanche just pulled into the Panera parking lot.  WTH kind of name is that for car?  Is an avalanche ever a source of anything but destruction and misery?  I’ll hand it to Japan, they’re not going to produce the Toyota A-Bomb.  Although the Porsche 911 is cutting it pretty close.
  • BTW, this aired 5 days before 9/11.

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