"We have reconnected with ... DIMENSION 404!" Mark Hammill's spooky introduction brings us back into the realm of this sci-fi anthology series after the excellent first episode "Matchmaker", to a new story with a fresh moral for us to think on. While Matchmaker may have been more subtly frightening, "Cinethrax" is outright petrifying.
Patton Oswalt shines as Uncle Dusty, a middle-aged man trying to act young and cool and carefree while hanging around with his teenage niece Chloe. They have headed to the cinema to consume a new film in a franchise (and slip in a quip about how film franchise finales increasingly spread their plots over more than one movie) - only to find that the film may in fact be consuming them.
Yet Dusty is the only cinemagoer present aware that an "otherworldy parasite" is secretly turning these millenials into hosts, as he is the only person not to have purchased a specific set of theatre glasses designed to ensure viewers aren't aware of it. When he tries to alert the cinema staff he learns they are victims of the parasite themselves.
This episode - much darker than its predecessor - sweeps through a number of styles. Beginning as a family drama before switching to the nobody-believes-the-crazy-guy trope. Then to full-on dystopia when the situation escalates.
But this isn't an episode I personally enjoyed. Reading the episode synopses for the first season, this wasn't one that caught my eye. My opinion thereafter hasn't altered. What I'm more impressed by, was the subtlety of the episode's messages - the very first being that we shouldn't care what other people think of us. Among others: don't go cinema with your uncle.
OK, I was being facetious there. But while I have not enjoyed this episode enough to find many positives to speak of, that's not to say they won't be present for you if you do go and watch "Cinethrax", and I'll never hesitate to recommend TV whether it was to my taste or not. (And for that reason I won't outline any other morals or messages or notable social commentary for fear of spoiling too much.)
At the very least, "Cinethrax" is a mind-bending forty minutes of television that Patton Oswalt excels in. I have disconnected from Dimension 404 for another week, but I'll reconnect for episode three "Chronos". Will you?
- Aired on Syfy, October 12 2017 at 21:00.
*Episode 1 - "Matchmaker"