Here is a thing that bugs me: why are movie cannibals (Hannibal Lecter excepted, of course) all such sloppy eaters? I mean, seriously. Like, I get that it’s a foot, but you can’t eat it with a knife and fork, really? And wipe your mouth once in a while? Having your cannibals devour human flesh like pigs at a trough is not actually more disturbing than having them devour it a little more neatly, and the trough thing grosses me out for reasons you probably don’t want me focusing on while you’re trying to disturb me with cannibalism.
Anyway. “The Washingtonians” centers around the idea that Washington and various other of the founding fathers were actually heinous cannibals. The Franks family finds this out by accident when the father inherits his grandmother’s house with various historical artifacts inside – such as a fork made out of bone and a note from Washington saying something to the effect of “I will eat your children and make forks out of their bones! Because I don’t have enough forks. How is it that forks always disappear? I swear they’re like socks in the dryer.”
(I can’t help but think that the plotline would have had more shock value thirty or forty years ago. If there’s an American alive today who would put baby-eating past a politician, I don’t think we’ve met.)
Anyway, finding the letter puts the Franks in danger from a bewigged, weirdly powdered secret society sworn to protect the secret of the cannibalism, and things sort of deteriorate from there.
The Franks family is comprised of a wife I felt really sorry for (Venus Terzo), an annoying husband (Johnathon Schaech), and the whiniest, most timorous offspring I have seen in I don’t even know how long (Julia Tortolano). My god, that kid irritated me. By ten minutes into the show I wanted to lock her in a dark basement full of clown dolls until she either died of fright or kicked open the door, newly equipped with a spine and a chainsaw and ready to mow down zombies.
“The Washingtonians” is an episode of the made-for-cable Masters of Horror series, so it really wouldn’t be fair of me to fault it for the microbudget makeup and effects, or the bargain-basement actors (with the exception of Hey-It’s-That-Guy extraordinaire Saul Rubinek, whom I love in pretty much anything he does), but honestly those things really do diminish the enjoyment value of the episode. Seriously, I’ve seen better production values in Supernatural episodes, so don’t tell me it can’t be done.
Further guilt about judging the episode harshly is brought on by the fact that it was directed by Peter Medak, otherwise known as the director of one of the few movies I will unstintingly give five stars to, horror masterpiece The Changeling. Either it’s amazing what a budget can do or Medak was just doing the paycheck walk through this one. Either way, about the best that can be said for “The Washingtonians” is that it’s unobjectionable and mildly entertaining if you can get past the fact that not a single watchable character appears onscreen until Saul Rubinek shows up to save the day in more ways than one.
So what’s the verdict? Two stars. It’s okay. It’s moderately amusing in a sort of lukewarm way. I wouldn’t watch it again, but it’s not terrible. It was an interesting idea that fell down in the execution and then, as it was lying in the street, got run over by a clown car full of unimpressive actors and peed on by the Pomeranian of low-budget scripts.
Also, it turns out that the guy who plays Sam was in Cats and Dogs, a thing for which I am judging him in this world and God will judge him in the next. Just saying.