Appellate Judge Mac McEntire's got chills! They're multiplyin'!
Look deep into the face of fear.
From 1995 comes this short-lived British anthology series, a throwback to classics like The Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Only five episodes were made, and they're lurking on this two-disc set:
• "Here Comes the Mirror Man"
• "The Man Who Didn't Believe in Ghosts"
• "Number Six"
British television often has a bad reputation, many thinking it dull and overly formal—the stereotypical sitting room drama. Usually all it takes is a viewing of anything from Fawlty Towers to Sherlock to cure folks of that thinking. Chiller, on the other hand, is one of those shows that earned Brit TV its staid reputation. This is a "chatty" series, with characters chatting at the office, at home, at a café, and so on. Every scene is very stiff and formal. Actual scares are few and far between.
To be fair, the creators are going for an old-fashioned, cerebral type of horror, bringing to mind the slow burn of classics like Rosemary's Baby and even the original Halloween. I appreciate that, but the difference is that while Rosemary's Baby has a lot of long stretches of domestic normalcy, there is an overall sense of dread running through the whole thing that keeps you invested and wondering what will happen next. That's a tough thing to pull off, and it is lacking in Chiller. The show's writing and acting are so stodgy that I can't imagine today's fright fans will have the patience needed to sit through scene after scene of tea-sipping chat just to get to the occasional ghostly visage.
A few well-known faces show up in episodes, including Sophie Ward (Land Girls), Nigel Havers (Coronation Street), Martin Clunes (Doc Martin) and Kevin McNally (Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl), even if the scripts give them a lot of dialogue with so little to say. The series is nicely filmed, making the most of the London location shooting. There's no mere stock establishing shot of the British Museum, the actors are filmed in front of and inside the actual museum. Another standout is the scenes inside the abandoned church in "Here Comes the Mirror Man" full of dark, shadowy atmosphere, something the show could use more of. As such, the DVD presentation has razor-sharp visuals, looking so good I was surprised this dated back to the mid-1990s. The 2.0 mono isn't as good, flat and unimpressive. No extras.
Maybe you're not that into horror, and you want something more like a traditional drama with some spooky elements. That's what Chiller is shooting for, but even with that simple target in mind, the show just doesn't hit the mark.
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