“Fear” – Movie Review

Fear is at the very center of what the horror genre is all about.  Although to be fair, just because a film isn’t “scary” to a particular person doesn’t mean it’s a terrible movie (which is a debate for a different day).  But fear itself is at the core of what horror’s ultimate purpose is.  So many different horror movies have toyed with the idea of fear as an almost tangible element.

2023’s very aptly titled film Fear takes this idea and runs with it.  Unfortunately, the film itself (its writing, directing, and editing choices) hold it back from fulfilling its genuinely interesting and creative as its premise.

Weekend Getaway
The film opens with a decades’ old interview on what appears to be VHS where a scientist discusses with the interviewing journalist his work on studying fear.  It’s a cool and creepy opening that’s honestly never referred back to and that’s a great shame because that movie would have been much more interesting.

We then meet our ensemble of characters as they’re staying in an old mansion for a weekend trip.  Several references make it clear that this is set during the initial lockdown in Spring 2020, and the film conveys an idea that the pandemic added an air of fear into the collective atmosphere itself.  And again, that’s a really cool idea, but it never really goes anywhere.

Fear 2
One positive feature is that it was shot on location at the historic Strawberry Lodge in Kyburz, CA (which you can actually stay at).

Around a bonfire, the friends discuss what their greatest fears are, which of course come back to haunt each of them.  The plot itself involves a coven of witches who are using fear to deliver souls to a demon or something like that.  The “something like that” isn’t meant to be facetious, it’s just the same level of care and detail the movie gives to its own plot.

Fear 1
To be fair, the actors feel like they have a natural chemistry with each other and look like they had fun filming at the lodge.

Wasted Potential
In a lot of ways, it feels like this movie was a collection of firsts, in the sense that the first draft of the script was used, and the first take of every scene was used, etc.  There are random shots that are out of focus.  It just includes a lot of clunky mistakes that with a bit more polishing could yield a much better movie.

Fear 3
It definitely knows what it wants to do with each unique character kill, making their fears come to life.

As for the scares, it does get creative at times, and there is a definite visual style, especially when the characters’ greatest fears are coming to life for them.  It’s all the more frustrating because it’s further evidence that there was thought, passion, and talent behind this film, it was just held back but what was most likely production, scheduling, and budget issues.

Whenever a horror movie deals with people’s direct fears, comparisons to Stephen King’s It are going to be inevitable.  And while this movie never goes too far with that, it’s oddly close to Evil Dead in terms of the visual representation of the demon, and the way it escapes from a locked chest.  It’s not a particularly important detail, but again it shows there was definitely thought put into everything.

Fear 5
The blurred faces detail also feels directly lifted from The Ring.

Overall, Fear is a great example of having all the right pieces, but if the final product isn’t assembled properly, its flaws stand out a lot more than its strengths.

What did you think of Fear?  Let us know in the comments!

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