Thursday, November 29, 2012

Review: Panic 9-1-1

Real-Life 911 Calls are Chilling

You can have only one thought while watching A&E's chilling, scary and well-made Panic 9-1-1: What in the world did crime victims do before they had immediate access to the police?

The show is similar in style to A&E's fantastic The First 48 with the telling of real-life crimes, including with a time clock to show just how long it took cops to arrive at the scene of a crime.

But it also has frightening reenactments, including fuzzy images and scratchy connections, like the movies Paranormal Activity.

The premise of the show is straightforward.

Three crime victims, or their families and friends, tell their frightening stories. First, you hear their panicked calls to 911 operators. Then, through reenactments, you see the crime unfolding.

On tonight's premiere, there are three stories.

The first is the scariest. A single mom in California and her young son are home alone on New Year's Eve. A deranged neighbor, who it turns out had been stalking her for months, kicks in their apartment door. The mom and her son run to a bedroom closet where she calls 911.

On that call, you can hear the guy - Buddy - talking, knowing she's on the phone with 911. Then, you also hear the woman's screams as he viciously attacks her. It's terrifying.

The second call is from a store in Illinois where a teenage gunman is armed with a shotgun. He blasts his way through the store as 50 customers scramble for safety.

The third call is the most incredible, and probably one of the best-known 911 calls ever. An older woman is home alone on an 80-acre farm. In the middle of the night, a man is pounding on her door. He eventually breaks in. The cops are almost a half-hour away from her farm.

She takes out a shotgun and, on Panic 9-1-1 premiering tonight at 10pm, you hear the incredible, horrific end result.

Panic 9-1-1 is so well made that you will quite literally feel chills for each story. Like a scary movie, though, you have to wonder how long the show can keep the chills coming. With a movie franchise like Paranormal Activity, familiarity with the plot and scare tactics make it less scary with each iteration. Still, enjoy the ride while you can.

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