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Fear News Reinvents the Talking-Head News Show

[show=fearnews size=large]For some actors, just sitting down and reading off a teleprompter is hard work. So Ginger Marie Rogers, host of Fear News, might have one of the toughest on-camera jobs in web video history. For each week, the 25-year-old actress not only has to spew out the latest developments in horror, but she has to do it while being chased by a machete-wielding psycho or fending off a menacing ghost.

Fear News, produced by filmmakers Jack Conway and Matthew Mercer for FearNET.com, offers a fresh approach to the talking-head show, eschewing green screens for real sets and narrative-driven scenarios. And the series in its first two episodes has created a half-narrative/half-informative style that mixes chills with news on a fairly equal basis — it’s as if Conway and Mercer know how bored we’ve gotten of the Rocketboom approach, and are, perhaps, just as bored themselves.

Each episode of Fear News essentially functions as both a standalone horror short and a nonfiction news update, and there’s a clear sense of the producers’ imaginations at work — which is good, because the best thing about Fear News is probably going to be the hardest part to sustain; continually finding new ways to mix news and terror on a weekly basis is a pretty Herculean task.

Rogers manages her double-duty role as horror movie heroine (specifically, the well-established “Last Girl” trope) and news presenter with a great deal of confidence and flair, and the production values so far are definitely of a pro quality.

But the series isn’t flawless — like every great horror villain, it has a few key weaknesses. There’s only enough time per episode to relay about four news bites, for one thing, and oftentimes the action onscreen is so compellingly done that it ironically distracts from the few stories they do have time for. However, on the flip side, the fact that each episode is so creatively staged means that the series might have longevity beyond the standard weekly news series.

The variation and experimentation happening here is fun to see — like when a demonic Teddy Ruxpin is the one to finish an update about Buffy producer Marti Noxon’s next project, or Rogers, discussing an upcoming 3-D screening of Nosferatu finds a Nosferatu T-shirt in the closet she’s hiding in. But the most important thing for Fear News to do is pay close attention to the balance implied by its name. As long as both aspects remain present in each episode, it should be a winner.

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