Masters of Horror: "Sounds Like" Episode Review
Written by Steve Pattee
BAM! BAM! BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM! – The sound of rain.
Written and directed by Brad Anderson (based on a short story by Mike O'Driscoll)
2006, 58 minutes, Not rated
Chris Bauer as Larry Pearce
Laura Margolis as Brenda
Larry Pearce (Chris Bauer – Flags of our Fathers) has exceptional hearing. This is important, because his job as a manager of a PC call center requires him to listen more than anything else.
But Larry's hearing problem is steadily getting worse — or better, depending on how you look at it. What starts out as damn good hearing, with bouts of "He heard that?" is turning into Larry hearing everything from people talking about him in hushed voices across a crowded cafeteria to the sound of a fly on a window rubbing its legs together.
And it's starting to drive Larry mad.
It could be the stress of never quite getting over the son he lost, or it could be that the sound of someone across the room chewing on a pencil is as loud as a jackhammer.
Oh, Masters of Horror, you show of broken promises, you.
Your concept is terrific — hourlong episodes from a director who is a "master" in the horror genre. And, oh, how I patiently waited for your first episode of your first season, "Incident On and Off a Mountain Road" — and I was blown away by it. Only to be let down with each subsequent episode. So now, "Sounds Like" is your fourth episode in your second season. Have you learned from your season one mistakes?
"Sounds Like" suffers from the same problems as your freshman season.
It's boring, drab and overlong.
Directed by "master of horror" Brad Anderson… Wait. Brad Anderson? He directed The Machinist and Session 9. So he's a master of horror now? Was The Machinist even a horror movie? When I think of horror masters, I think of Romero, Carpenter, Craven and so on. I don't think of someone who has made one, maybe two horror movies. I'm by no means knocking Anderson here because, from what I've seen, he has a lot of promise. But, dammit, I'd expect a thicker resume from a show called Masters of Horror.
That said, if "Sounds Like" were half an hour long, it would have been a stellar episode. It really has some terrific moments. But at an hour, it just drags on and on. Because there's really only so much you can do with super hearing. I'll break it down for you: Demonstration of super human hearing, dialogue, demonstration, reflection, demonstration, and repeat.
"Sounds Like" certainly has its moments. Chris Bauer is superb as the frustrated Larry, and he really carries the episode when things get excruciatingly slow. And the last scene, the payoff, is really well done and something to see. But after sitting through an hour of things Larry can hear, it really loses a lot of its impact. It's as if they came up with a great ending and forced a story around it, and you can really tell it's forced.
It's sad, really. I want to like Masters of Horror. It certainly has — or had — the potential to be, quite possibly, the best series horror fans had ever scene. But, instead, with episodes like this, it has ended up being a very low-rent Tales from the Crypt.
As drawn out as "Sounds Like" is, it's still not the worst of the series. Bauer's performance really saved this episode from being worse than it is, but, unfortunately, part of me isn't surprised that I was disappointed in the episode. Catch it on a rerun if nothing else is on.
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