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'Fear' review: Isolated horror thriller short on chills


Courtesy of Hidden Empire Film Group

 

Another unexpected entrant into the COVID-inspired catalog of film, Deon Taylor’s “Fear” asks audiences (and the characters) what their worst nightmares are made of. The results are a stagnant and murky dissection around how fear consumes the mind and soul until nothing is left. If you’ve heard that derivative logline before, that’s because it’s been used in horror movies since Freddy Kruger preyed upon sleeping teenagers. In “Fear,” an airborne pathogen forces a group of friends to hunker down at a bed and breakfast as their nightmares play out in real time. We know what makes them squirm because, the night before, the squad sat around a campfire and conveniently told us, but Taylor and co-writer John Ferry try playing with genre troupes by inserting malevolent, supernatural forces into the screenplay. 


Sadly, none of the characters blend together nor have distinct personalities, so when the blood starts flowing, you could care less about who is getting axed. When we meet the potential victims, a collection of couples and old-college pals played by Joseph Sikora, Ruby Modine, Annie IIonzeh, Iddo Goldberg, Andrew Bachelor, Tyler Abro and Tip “TI” Harris, we don’t know much aside from one of them is planning a marriage proposal. And after a strange encounter with the creepy hotel manager, the news alerts the squad about the aforementioned airborne virus taking over the world. But that’s not all, they begin experiencing strange hallucinations that manifest deadly consequences. I wonder if something was in the wine the creepy lady gave them? 


Some expressed fear of drowning, others losing a loved one or not being trusted, but “Fear,” (not to be confused with the Mark Whalberg thriller from the nineties), doesn’t give audiences anything worth latching onto outside of these basic, one-dimensional traits. In other words, the film doesn’t take the time to unspool the necessary framework that might have benefited audience engagement. It’s also never clear what “thing” is attacking the group. Witch? Demon? Ghost? All of the above? What we get is a bizarre, special effects driven villain that looks discarded from early cuts of “Venom” and plenty of confusion. 


Horror is a big seller these days and though “Fear” might lend itself to a rowdy group of casual fans looking for something to watch on a rainy day, the overall corniness and lack of depth hinders what minimal enjoyment exists. It’s just another lousy scary movie. 


Grade: D- 


FEAR opens in theaters Friday January 27th. 


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