This post also includes a review, so don’t worry-I’ll justify the title of this article shortly. But first, I get to announce a type of show that I’ve never known to exist before: a horror game show!
A new show called Release the Hounds premiered on Halloween on CDS’s Metacafe and BlackBoxTV on Youtube. As I mentioned, it’s a horror game show, and viewers follow three contestants through a dark forest as they search for the keys to unlock chests of prize money. The show’s host, Reggie Yates, is the contestants’ only link to the outside world as they face frightening challenges, which begins with a walk through a field of crucified scarecrows and ends with a race against a pack of dogs that have been trained to guard the money. If the contestants win the race, they get to keep their prize. But if they don’t, the consequences that await them are terrifying.
Pretty straightforward premise. Like all game shows, it manages to straddle the line between simple and stupid with impressive ability.
I watched the previews of two of the three episodes available; while not the full episode, at nearly 20 minutes long each, they’re a sizeable chunk with which to form an opinion. I’ve posted all three previews in order beginning with Episode 1 at the very end of this article for you to watch so you can see what you think.
What I think is under the videos, because it contains spoilers and you might not want those just yet.
Episode One Preview
Episode Two Preview
Episode Three Preview
I tried to finish it off by watching the third episode, I really did. But I just couldn’t make myself do it without a gun to my head, so I opted for the much less drastic idea that “two shitty episodes are unlikely to lead to even a mediocre third episode.”
If I wanted to watch something flounder and try to grab onto air as much as this show did, I would’ve just given my cat a shower.
The concept of a horror game show is an interesting and cool idea, but Release the Hounds suggests there’s a good reason why it remains untouched by the entertainment industry: the difficulty associated with creating a horror game show and making it well is dauntingly high. I think the show’s creators and the people who worked on the episodes deserve credit for taking on such a project.
I can’t emphasize the lack of me being able to get into this show. My interest lasted for exactly 3 minutes and 6 seconds, and then host Reggie Yates informed contestants with a straight face that they should not expect “vejazzled, fluffy dogs.” I don’t know if I could fairly say things got any lower than that, but they definitely didn’t get any better.
The show had all the substance of a bath bubble. A couple of dopey kids find the keys to the prize money by completing a few challenges, which were not explained to the viewer in any way. I was annoyed with the show for not giving me at least a hint of what the hell was going on until I realized that the reason was that there was literally nothing to tell. Effort was instead placed into attempting to add layers of useless complication to each situation and by proxy into boring me to death.
I didn’t even have high expectations for the show (or really, any expectations) before I watched it. But it seems counterproductive to have a show that places such emphasis on being scary (both for the contestant and the viewer at home) and then to make “field of scarecrows where the contestants will hear scary voice noises” one of your major scenes. Oh right, “crucified” scarecrows. Because now it’s less lame. For what I was initially impressed by the “horror game show” idea, I found the cheap parlor tricks and the “haunted house candid camera” crap to be a tremendously poor effort. The low budget feeling of the production isn’t something I have a problem with in the least, but even the worst low-budget movies I can think of include a title screen and credits. Additionally, the reality show format usually calls for name introductions, which are simply a common courtesy to the viewer. Release the Hounds chose to skip that part entirely: I found the host’s name in other articles, I think her name was Millie or Lily, and they’re just two nameless punters.
I’m aware that I sound a bit harsh, but I’ve just spent an hour of my life (that I can never get back!) sitting through this show and I’m not the kind of person to try and mine gold in shit. Furthermore, I absolutely cannot stand laziness, and Release the Hounds reeked of it. Even the home video I made for history class in 11th grade had a title screen, and I barely knew what a computer was for aside from typing. Come on.
It’s extremely difficult for a situation like this to be believable to begin with. Without the use of computer special effects available for use in a “haunted game show,” the show creators would have to turn to other, more basic means of scaring people, which isn’t as easy in our computer-oriented world (for anybody, the person doing the scaring or the person being scared). And without the use of trained actors as contestants, people who work solely to make a character on screen believable, the void left by computer effects won’t necessarily be filled in a person doing all the work to show terror. I presumed that real fear would be more believable, and maybe that’s true, but it was not clear to me if the contestants were actually supposed to be being really frightened, or if they knew about the cabin in the woods-ripoff set coming up on the trail and were supposed to “make like you’re scared.” The lame scary effects make me seriously doubt they could honestly be afraid (but then again, they’re not Mensa members), although a jump or two at a noise seemed genuine. I wasn’t sure what to think, and I ended up examining how they were reacting to things instead of focusing on the show as a whole.
Partway into the second episode, I had a sudden, random thought pop into my head: what if this show is a joke, like Joaquin Phoenix’s whole hobo act for a real-life mockumentary?
Before I go further, please note: these are simply my own personal musings, thoughts I came up with on my own. I don’t wish for my personal speculation about whether or not this show is a joke to get caught up as fact in the craziness of the Internet.
Now remember, my brain was busy nearly breaking itself in half with how overcomplicated the challenges were, so it’s extremely fair to say I might be reaching. But here’s what: the rampant lack of professionalism and the utter ridiculousness of the entire show stuck out to me in a way as being similar to other items that belong to the category of “Internet jokes.” You know, a group of tech-savvy kids and their friends make a video and present it as something real. In this case, that’d be a serious game show. But I do find it a bit odd that there’s very little about this show on the Internet-I mean really little, and that it seems to abruptly end after just 3 episodes with no word on whether the “finale” is referring to these contestants, this season, or the entire show. No title or opening credits. Reggie Yates slaughtering the English language by talking about “vajazzelled” dogs. The plot that has less substance than a bubble. And then, the entire idea of people being willing to be chased by large “attack” dogs for less than $700 in the first place or even for a show to use that as a premise when it’s obvious to anybody with common sense that this is a potential injury lawsuit waiting to happen. In a certain light, it all seems purposefully stupid: too stupid to be real stupidity.
I’m just throwing that out there. The myriad faults of the show could also be written off as lack of budget, poor production, inexperience etc. And the fact that people are willing to do literally anything to be on television and win some money has been a slightly depressing aspect of society for a while, so the “getting chased by dogs” thing for around $700 might just seem like easy money to some people. Who knows.
I’m sure I could go on, but I’m going to wrap it up. Release the Hounds ain’t worth it, don’t torture yourself.