Last night’s premiere of Nightmares & Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King on TNT was most definitely dreamlike, but sometimes dreams should stay inside the head. While watching what was intended to be an hour of horror and mystery, I was a little baffled as to what was supposed to be scary.
Or, for that matter, interesting.
The protagonist of “Battleground” murders the CEO of a toy company and is sent a package filled with dangerously unforgiving toys. While this concept might be hard for anyone to make terrifying, not even William Hurt could prevent me from having my own dreams as the show lulled me to sleep.
In case readers were wondering how to make a horror show as un-scary as possible, “Battleground" provides some great tactics. First, have your victim never speak. In fact, have no one say anything throughout the whole episode. Second, botch this possibly interesting concept by blasting overdramatic music unremittingly. This will cause your protagonist’s mute character to fall closer to Silent Bob in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back rather than Holly Hunter’s wordless role in The Piano.
Finally, make sure the villains are amusing objects; nothing will comfort viewers more than knowing that the enemy is an evil blowup doll, volatile tiddlywinks, or in this case, green army men seeking revenge.
Bright spots include Hurt, whose body language is particularly telling of the intensifying terror his character feels; the episode not taking itself too seriously; and quality production values. And the show did great numbers: TNT says it set the record for an ad-supported cable scripted series debut among adults 18-49, with over 2,500,000 viewers in that demo. But unless TNT plans on changing its slogan to “We Sort of Know Drama,” these stories better start feeling like actual nightmares, not just Stephen King’s weirdo fantasies.
By Intern G. Steiner