Sunday, September 7, 2008

Season 1 Episode 4
“In Sickness and In Health”
Written by Victor Salva
Directed by John Landis

The person you are marrying is a serial killer.

That’s what a typewritten note received by Samantha (Psych’s Maggie Lawson) reads, on her wedding day.
And though the premise does sound like some cheesy thriller by way of Lifetime, this was an episode brought to us by the tag team of Victor Salva (Jeepers Creepers) and John Landis (An American Werewolf In London).
With that sort of pedigree alone, this was high on my radar, and ultimately, I can appreciate the attempt, but am nonetheless disappointed with this particular union.

To begin with, though not as pronounced as it was in American Werewolf, that brand of Landis humour can still be detected in “In Sickness…”, and it’s an element that doesn’t quite benefit the episode’s set-up and action, much of which occurs in a dark, creaky church.
The thrills aren’t really there as well, and the overkill with the religious iconography—statuary and stained glass windows seem ubiquitous in this one—frankly gets annoying, as if Landis had nothing else to train his camera on. (Though they may perhaps be meant to foreshadow some gruesome climactic imagery, their repetitiveness just seems lazy and uninspired.)
The casting of Lawson’s co-star on Psych (and the USA Network show’s lead) James Roday as Samantha’s husband-to-be, Carlos, also serves to distract, as his portrayal of over-the-top fake psychic detective Shawn Spencer is a difficult shadow to shake; I don’t think I’d ever mentally equate the actor who plays Shawn Spencer with a groom and possible serial killer named “Carlos.”

And as far as Salva’s script goes, though I did note the narrative eventuality as soon as it was mentioned early on in the proceedings, I will nonetheless commend the script for the passably effective climactic twist.
The red herrings though, seem, in retrospect, to be desperate stabs at keeping the audience guessing.

There are some pluses, mind.
The stunt casting of Cancer Man himself, William B. Davis, as the hard-of-hearing Fr. Chris, is amusing, and the Hitchcock echo is also neatly slotted in.
And this is better than Landis’ earlier Masters of Horror entry, “Deer Woman,” so that’s something.
If however, you’re hard-pressed to see some truly worthwhile stuff from either Salva or Landis, you’d be better served by watching either Jeepers Creepers (just the first; you can skip the sequel) or An American Werewolf In London (not to be confused with the terrible sorta-sequel, Anthony Waller’s An American Werewolf In Paris).

(Images courtesy of

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