Are You Afraid Friday: The Tale of the Hungry Hounds
Dir. D. J. MacHale (1992)
Two girls try on dresses that belonged to a dead relative, but the spirit of the deceased remains.
It's always been a little bit odd to me that people like to keep the possessions of their dead relatives, relics from a time past that hold nothing more than sentimental value to their survivors. I'm no different, of course. I have many things that belonged to my mother, and I'm sure I'll have many things that belonged to my father once he passes. Still, from a biological perspective, these objects don't do anything other than connect us to our forefathers, with no monetary or significance beyond the memories that are left behind.
Pam (Mia Kirshner, the first real star that gets her beginning from AYAotD) and her cousin Amy (Jennifer Gula) are exploring the family attic, trying on clothes from a bygone era and enjoying themselves as tweens are wont to do. They play dressup and look at old pictures, going through the possessions that once belonged to their Aunt Dora. And speaking of possession, Pam looks an awful lot like her dead Aunt...
This is not only the first episode with an actual star in it, it's also the first episode with a legitimately good performance thanks to that star. Kirshner does a great job of providing a little dramatic flair to the episode, portraying both the teen Pam and the spirit of Aunt Dora. She is the biggest bright spot of the episode, elevating what is otherwise a convoluted story that feels more like a period piece than a modern (or at least modern for the early 90's) ghost story. It's difficult to convey just how watchable Kirshner makes the episode, helping lend the story a creepy air despite its troubled plot.
There's a brief aside about Pam not being allowed to ride her horse anymore after an accident that happened "long ago," but it's barely discussed beyond the bridge scene between attic adventures. The Tale of the Hungry Hounds feels like it wasn't fully thought out, and it fails to meet the standard set by the first four episodes of the series. Kristen's (Rachel Blanchard) story feels like filler, an episode that never becomes anything close to frightening, and there's not even any exposition for The Midnight Society itself either. All in all, this one is a little lacking, serving more as a vehicle to show Kirshner's budding talent rather than one to tell a scary story to kids.
Who this episode is for: Ghost story stans, Supernatural fans, Pedigree purchasers
Bottom line: The weakest episode so far, The Tale of the Hungry Hounds feels more like a filler episode than any that have come before it. Mia Kirshner is great in the lead, but the rest of the episode is pretty lackluster. It's worth watching for nostalgia alone, of course, much like the rest of the series, but it fails to attain any further heights than that.