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Review: 'Fear of Rain' ties mental illness into another mediocre thriller

Courtesy of Lionsgate


Another well intentioned though defective psychological thriller that uses mental illness for narrative progression, Castille Landon’s “Fear of Rain” has promise, but fails to hold weight beyond its Lifetime aesthetic. The film uses big words and terminology to educate the viewer, but its exploitation around a schizophrenic teen who may or may not be living next door to a serial child murderer is only marginally watchable if not for Madison Iseman’s tuned-in performance.

Iseman plays Rain, an estranged teenager recently discharged from a psychiatric hospital following an episodic break. Her loving, one-dimensional parents (Katherine Heigl and Harry Connick Jr - both fine) set her up with weekly therapist sessions and useful medications. But just as quickly as Rain returns home, whispers and thoughts slowly manifest about next door neighbor and school teacher, Dani (Eugenie Bondurant - elegantly creepy) who she believes kidnapped a missing child. Outcast from her squad of besties, Rain begins an expansive investigation with Caleb (Israel Broussard) into Dani’s after school functions, hopefully proving to her non-believing parents she isn’t crazy.

Rain’s obsession with her neighbor is the driving force behind Landon’s picture, but the real cat-and-mouse game is for audiences to decipher who is telling the truth. Is Rain dealing in reality? Or is this another break? Her parents seem to think the latter, and Landon unspools enough easter eggs to keep the wheels turning, including a few stylistic touches like throwing text from Rain’s journal on screen whenever she's triggered by her surroundings. “Fear of Rain” tries to create a sincere lead character and Iseman’s organic performance certainly gives credibility, but the film’s insistence that it understands mental illness - which judging by the film is open for debate - becomes an irksome hurdle to overcome.

That condescending nature overshadows several predictable twists during the film's rushed climax, as key relationships offer little insight into who these characters are, making the shocks less convincing and the payoff maddening. In the end, “Fear of Rain” lacks memorable visual clues and the smarts to embrace its campy premise.

Grade: C-

FEAR OF RAIN is now available digitally


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