Main cast: Elisabeth Moss (Danny Bannerman), Russell Hornsby (Sergeant Wiliams), Stephen Lee (Marty Steinwitz), Stephen R Hart (Duane ‘Eater’ Mellor), and Pablo Schreiber (Mattingley)
Director: Stuart Gordon
Remember how, for a while, it was trendy to put out horror films featuring some female cop left in some dark and scary building – often the police station – to be pitted against some supernatural forces? That fad didn’t last long, did it? Anyway, Eater is a TV episode-sized version of such a story, and it plays out mostly as one would expect after seeing a few of such movies.
Rookie officer Danny Bannerman is often teased and taunted by her male colleagues, and when the episode begins, she is given the night shift, to watch the police station along with two other officers. The thing is, they have a serial killer, Duane Mellor, in their custody. Known as the Eater, this serial killer has murdered and eaten an impressive number of victims, and he especially loves to take his time in torturing his female victims. You have one guess as to which police officer he has his eye on. And what do you know, the Eater has some kind of voodoo powers, and it’s not long before he breaks out of his cell and is stalking poor Danny in the corridors and such. How will she ever get through this night?
Let’s not wonder why they would leave a serial killer so poorly guarded in the first place – it’s obviously a contrivance, and the people behind this episode is more about putting the female protagonist into all kinds of hellish scenarios. The denouement also operates on some rather suspect science, but it works nonetheless because Eater is easily the goriest and most disturbing episode to date in this series.
The gore by itself isn’t anything to get excited over, as this is, after all, an episode to be aired on a mainstream TV channel. However, the episode serves up some fantastic atmosphere of pure dread that is an extrapolation from the incessant sexual and verbal harassment Danny faces in her workplace. What happens when these “playful” antics of her male colleagues ramp up, under the Eater’s influence, into violence and more? The threat of being eaten alive is also always there, along with “lesser” ones such as assault, so following Danny’s story can be draining indeed. It is especially hard to sit through the denouement. Sure, Danny eventually kills the Eater, but she has to sacrifice herself to do so.
Is the story itself any good? Well, it’s more hokey than scary on paper. However, the execution is superb, and Elisabeth Moss does a great job portraying a character who is trying hard to keep her wits around her when she’s clearly out of her depths and outmatched as well. Eater is a solid kind of horror TV, and I lap up every minute of it.