Stratosfear

22 Nov

Shadows is usually admirably spooky (when it doesn’t get sidetracked into the realm of twee fantasy), but Ewart Alexander’s The Eye, directed by Neville Green, is the only episode that’s genuinely scary, even for an adult viewer (well this adult viewer, anyway).  With its genuinely weird atmosphere and its unfathomable story (seemingly) involving something gone wrong with time it feels more than anything like a Sapphire and Steel story a few years early.  But there are no clever trans-dimensional agents to help out the kids caught up in this nightmare (and the feeling of being caught up in a nightmare is exactly what The Eye evokes).

In a rain-lashed house in Wales (decorated with several varieties of truly startling 70s wallpaper), nervous teenager Steve is frantically trying to tidy up before his dad’s return home.  Meanwhile his creepy sister George sits in the dark, staring at the pictures of historical figures pinned to her bedroom wall, and murmuring about time.

Steve’s made uneasy by the strange atmosphere given off by a Greek urn in the hall commemorating the mythical blind wanderer Stratos.  George is almost as obsessed with this as with her pictures from the past, and has taken up smashing crockery to make a huge mosaic of Stratos in the garage.  As she seems to drift further into her own little world, Steve is increasingly terrified by strange sounds and images that fill the house, centred (for a reason that’s never explained) on an over-boiling saucepan on the stove.

Eventually Dad arrives home – or does he? The figure that enters the house is wearing his bike gear, but is silent (apart from some scary heavy breathing) and apparently unable to see.  And it seems to be searching for something…

What’s going on in The Eye might be anyone’s guess, but thanks to its weird, almost subliminal spectral images, a memorably  frightening monster and John Sanderson’s convincingly terror-stricken performance as Steve it becomes a classic of TV horror.

 

 

 

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