Giallo and Slasher Fans Get a Prime Time Treat in The Following

I finally got around to watching the first episode of The Following, Fox's latest horror TV series. While there are other horror shows on other non-premium networks, shows such as Supernatural and American Horror Story, The Following is the only one that is firmly rooted in the giallo/slasher subgenre of horror. As a passionate fan of that subgenre, I'm grateful for this show's arrival. Not only is it off to a promising start with an interesting premise, but I don't have to pay extra on my cable bill to watch it (as opposed to subscribing to Showtime to watch another serialized giallo/slasher series, Dexter).

The Following is the brainchild of Kevin Williamson, whose previous horror credits include TV series such as The Vampire Diaries and movies such as I Know What You Did Last Summer and three of the four Scream movies. The show begins with FBI agent Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) coming out of retirement to help catch serial killer Dr. Joe Carroll (James Purefoy) who recently escaped from prison. The first episode looks and feels like other well-known serial killer movies--particularly Manhunter and Se7en--but as the episode progresses, it becomes clearer that Carroll has an army of devoted serial killers in training to help him accomplish a much grander, gorier plan that what was originally suspected.

The first season of The Following will consist of 14 episodes broadcast during 14 consecutive weeks, in order to give the show a serialized "page turner" kind of feel. So far, it's working--the first episode ends on a cliffhanger, and I suspect each episode will up until the very end. I can't wait to see where this show goes next. Some additional thoughts:

* The Following wouldn't be the first serialized giallo/slasher series to appear on TV. There were also Harper's Island, which aired on CBS in 2009, and Epitafios, which aired in Argentina in 2004.

* When the first episode of The Following aired last Monday, it was immediately preceded by an episode of Bones that featured a recurring serial killer villain, the elusive Christopher Pelant (Andrew Leeds). The episode, which was titled "The Corpse on the Canopy", began with a flayed, jawless corpse found suspended over a canopied bed and ended with a character sowing his own face together after being shot in the head. Nice thematic pairing there, Fox.

* In a subplot reminiscent of last year's movie The Raven, Carroll patterns his killings and murderous philosophy after the literary works of Edgar Allen Poe. I'm personally hoping that if this series gets another season, the focus will shift to a Carroll disciple who patterns his or her killings after the work of Japan's answer to Poe, Edogawa Rampo.

* The overall plot of The Following--a serial killer who forms a cult that carries out his bloodthirsty wishes--sounds like something that would've fit perfectly within the first season of Millennium, another horror series that aired on Fox from 1996 to 1999. While I think that The Following will fare better than its predecessor due to its serialized format--Millennium suffered quite an identity crisis during its three season run--both series have been considered controversial due to their excessive violence on prime time network television. Millennium was even the subject of an advertiser boycott campaign during its first season.


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