The Fair Haired Child (Masters of Horror S01E09)
“The Fair Haired Child”
Season 1, Episode 9
Directed by William Malone
Written by Matt Greenberg.
Masters of Horror is an anthology TV series created by Mick Garris which first aired on the Showtime network in 2005. Each episode is a stand alone one hour film, directed by a master horror director. Masters of Horror ran for two seasons, and is available on DVD.
When you’re dealing with horror movies, even short ones like the Masters of Horror, there’s a strong tendency for anything occult related to head straight for the cheese factor, often by way of lame cliché. When ‘The Fair Hair Child’ opened on demonic looking rituals involving all of the requisite candles, graves and pentagrams, I prepared for cheese. Fortunately though the episode was all about a deal with the devil (or demon thing), ‘The Fair Hair Child’ turned out to be an entertaining and well played out story.
After being run down in the woods, drugged and kidnapped, outcast teen, Tara (Lindsay Pulsipher – True Blood) wakes up in a strange mansion where she is being held hostage by a bizarre couple, Anton and Judith. She’s thrown into the basement where she encounters Johnny, a mute boy she assumes is being held captive like herself. Tara fights to devise an escape plan, discovering that she is one in a line on many kids who have been captured in the basement.
The story passes back and forth between Tara and Johnny’s struggles, and the story of the abducting couple above. We know that they’re abducting kids for some kind of occult ritual that’s linked to some terribly grievous incident that has been sending them mad for years, but we don’t find out exactly what until very near the end. This review isn’t going to go into that ending, as piecing it together is one of the episode’s most entertaining elements.
Lori Petty (A League of Their Own; Point Break; Tank Girl) is an absolute stand out in the role of Judith, the middle-aged, generally ordinary but still quite weird classical cellist who is caught up in this whole demonic ritual thing. The role is an unusual one for Petty who made her name as the scrappy tom-boy character in the early 1990s and she pulls it off brilliantly.
Another highlight is the monster demon creature that appears towards the end. It’s a freakish imp thing, perfectly grotesque without being over the top monstrous, and is strongly reminiscent of something from Japanese horror in its appearance and movement.
Director, William Malone doesn’t have a great list of horror productions to his name – a few spec-fic TV titles, and some at best B-grade movies (House on Haunted Hill (1999); Feardotcom (2002)) so I wasn’t expecting big things from his work here. ‘The Fair Hair Child’ is however, a more than respectable effort and worthy of its Master status.
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