Director: Michael J. Fox
Writer: Scott Alexander
Cast: Teri Garr, Bruno Kirby, Bruce McGill, James Tolkan, Carroll Baker, John Kassir, Carlos Lacamara, Michael J. Fox, Yvette Freeman, and Ben Hartigan
Composer: Peter Allen
Air Date: 6/15/1991
Having been fired from his pizza delivery job, Lou Paloma (Bruce McGill)—an abrasive, unmotivated man—decides to take advantage of his life insurance policy; but must pretend to be a murder victim in order to do so. Though initially successful in fooling the police, Lou runs into trouble when Irene (Teri Garr) and Billy (Bruno Kirby)—Lou’s wife and brother, respectively—develop a plan of their own.
Operating on the idiotic premise that a man could fake his own death in order to collect insurance money, “The Trap” forgoes a logical approach to storytelling. An unpredictable (albeit somewhat cruel) twist in the final act should, however, be commended.
While setting the stage for a murder scene, Billy and Irene are forced to render Lou unconscious with a fire poker—a red herring that, when coupled with Billy’s morbid comment (i.e. “I think I’ve killed him”), effectively distracts the viewer’s attention from the true focus of Scott Alexander’s narrative (that being said, the manslaughter fake-out fails to maintain suspense for more than a few seconds).
By employing humor of a cartoonish variety, “The Trap” accentuates the hyperbolic circumstances surrounding Lou’s predicament. The exaggerated, if not thoroughly absurd, performances of Bruce McGill and Carroll Baker may nevertheless prompt cringing from those of a serious inclination, especially when contrasted with the more restrained efforts of Bruno Kirby and Teri Garr. Also worth criticizing is Mother Paloma’s funeral outburst directed at Irene and Billy (neither of whom “deserved” Lou according to Mrs. Paloma), which comes across as excessively mean-spirited rather than cute or amusing.
(Spoilers beyond this point)
Despite the crude, obnoxious demeanor of his character, Lou never behaves in a manner that would justify his execution via the electric chair; therefore, “The Trap” may offend audiences with a sense of justice.
“The Trap” is a clever but deeply flawed Tales from the Crypt episode. Fans of Michael J. Fox and the horror/comedy genre alike may thus wish to avoid this offering, the comedic material of which often suffers from a juvenile tone.
Overall Quality: 5/10
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