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Sunday, October 7, 2012

31 Days of Horror: "Home" (X-Files) (Season 4, Episode 2)

There is a rich tradition in the horror genre of psychotic Mama's Boys growing up to be twisted and sadistic murders (Norman Bates, Jason Vorhees).  There is another tradition, just as rich, of creepy, inbred, moderately to severely deformed killer rednecks hiding out in the woods or the hills, waiting for a group of fun-loving teenagers to cross their paths so they can begin a gory campaign of rape, murder and drooly leering.

In its fourth season, the X-Files television program took both of these beloved horror tropes and mashed them together into one of the singularly most disturbing episodes of television ever committed to film.  And this was on FOX, a network notorious for its nauseating TV spectacles (see: Married By America; Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire; The Littlest Groom; the Glenn Beck television show; etc).

"Home" tells the icky tale of the Peacock boys, a trio of horrifically malformed brothers, who we watch rip a baby out of a screaming woman's uterus and bury alive in a muddy field during the episodes cold opening.  The baby is discovered the next day by a group of boys playing baseball in a field near the Peacock farm.  This is the first five minutes of the episode, people, and we've already witnessed a bloody kitchen table birth, the live burial of a newborn baby, and the subsequent, and squishy, discovery of the child's dead body.  Ugh.

Mulder and Scully are called in to investigate because the baby in question is totes deformed and Mulder and Scully are into investigating deformed things or whatever.  The partners meet with town sheriff, Andy Taylor (yup), who urges them to tread lightly, as he loves his small backwards town and doesn't want to see something like a gruesome baby murder sully its homey reputation.  Whatever, dude.

It doesn't take Mulder and Scully long to realize that, obvs, the Peacocks are involved, because, um, they're gross.  But before the brothers can be rounded up and arrested, they take a drive over to Sheriff Taylor's house and beat him and his wife to death with baseball bats, in what is perhaps the scariest scene in the episode.

Oh, something you should know about the Peacock family: everybody in town thinks that their parents died in a car wreck some years back.  No bodies were recovered from the crash site, but everyone in town just assumed they were dead.  They're not.  Well, Mr. Peacock is, but Mrs. Peacock is alive and well (well...) and living under the bed, emerging periodically to copulate with her sons and give birth to deformed inbred freaks of nature.  Ew.

A lot more scary and disgusting stuff goes down before the episode ends, but once we find out Mrs. Peacock is actively, and proudly, sleeping and having babies with her monstrous sons, that general ick feeling lingers no matter what's happening on screen.

I always enjoyed the self-contained episodes of the X-Files a little more than the whole alien visitors/black oil/"the Smoking Man is up to something sinister again" episodes, and "Home" is a winner in terms of crafting a truly disturbing episode of television that sustains a near constant mood of terror and ickiness.

1 comment:

Gabe Sealey-Morris said...

This episode was, without a doubt, the most terrifying thing I had ever seen in my life up to that point. I never liked horror as a kid, but I liked shows like the Twilight Zone and the X-Files. "Home" took me places I was not prepared to go.