Director: Tom Holland
Writers: James Tugend and Tom Holland
Cast: Patricia Arquette, Chelcie Ross, Susan J. Blommaert, and John Kassir
Composer: Scott Johnson
Air Date: 5/29/1990
A fugitive named Mary Jo (Patricia Arquette) is forced to seek shelter on a farm, where owners George and Luisa Yates (Chelcie Ross and Susan J. Blommaert) frequently abuse her. Thankfully for Mary Jo, a head injury allows her to fall in love with a scarecrow; or so it would seem.
“Four-Sided Triangle” benefits from an intriguing, albeit bizarre, premise. That being said, director Tom Holland failed to realize the black comedy potential contained in his own narrative.
A cool soundtrack highlights any suspenseful material leading into the finale, while washed-out film colors work to accentuate the dreary farm setting on which Mary Jo is confined.
Similar to “Lover Come Hack to Me,” “Four-Sided Triangle” serves as a testament to Holland’s apparent inability to maintain a consistent and appropriate tone while directing (the strange use of humor following George’s attempt to rape Mary Jo is perhaps the most extreme example of this fact, with subtle changes in tone greatly altering the audience’s perception of what should have been a truly skin-crawling moment). Unlike the aforementioned episode from season one, however, “Four-Sided Triangle” fails to generate a spooky atmosphere to compensate for its obvious shortcomings. Even the performance of Patricia Arquette, an otherwise talented actress, lacks a compelling edge that would allow viewers to invest in Holland’s narrative; however, this too could be the result of sloppy direction as evidenced by prior examples.
On that note, character development is virtually nonexistent, which can be partially attributed to the fact that many plot points are never fleshed out extensively enough to allow viewers to relate with the protagonist and her struggle. In fact, audiences are provided with almost no background information on Mary Jo, excepting a brief reference to her past violation of the law and subsequent enslavement on the Yates’ farm. The ambiguity surrounding Mary Jo also extends to the Yates couple, whose hateful characteristics are intended to induce anger at certain points and laughter at others (again, this problem likely stems from the incongruous tone outlined earlier).
A messy, goofy episode, “Four-Sided Triangle” will appeal only to the most ardent of Tales from the Crypt fans. While a disturbing and occasionally surreal connection between Mary Jo and her scarecrow lover is present, a confusing twist in the climactic scene effectively spoils any potential for supernatural justice that existed prior to this point.
Overall Quality: 3/10
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