It’s been way too long since a jump scare movie proved so unnerving and actually making good on its thriller premise like Fear.
This is a pretty inspired thriller that provides its characters — an audience — with a simple concept: fear is a choice don’t believe in it.
A group of friends (T.I., Terrence Jenkins, Jessica Allain, Andrew Bachelor, Ruby Modine, Tyler Abron and Iddo Goldberg) travel to an isolated lodge to celebrate Bianca’s (Annie Illonzeh, Arrow) birthday.
There’s a hidden reason behind it as her thriller novelist boyfriend, Rom (Joseph Sikora, Power) plans to propose yet hasn’t worked up the nerve yet. And if Rom happens to get some inspiration for his next book along the way, that’s even better.
On a lark, during a candid campfire conversation the group decides to share their deepest fears. The terrors range from blood, not being able to breathe, losing their son and getting harassed by police.
All viable fears that in a Final Destination-style manner telegraph how the characters could potentially meet their fate.
The next morning the group awakens to a news report that an even worse strand of the virus has arrived. And the safest course of action is to stay inside.
After months of isolation, the last thing the group wants to do is be stuck in an increasingly creepy lodge, but the thought of an insta-death by venturing out into the ominous mist-heavy fog doesn’t seem like the best strategy either.
This only stokes the lingering terror and paranoia the group has faced in enduring a pandemic.
Using the pandemic as a larger backdrop for the fraught tension allows director/co-screenwriter Devon Taylor and co-screenwriter John Ferry to create some relatable fear when characters start violently coughing or acting suspicious about their condition.
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Per genre rules, the characters have to make some mildly questionable decisions — do you really need to take a crowbar to open up that random suitcase sitting in the basement floor? It’s in service of advancing the plot so it’s somewhat understandable.
This type of thriller tends to work best with teen characters as they can be written unlikable enough that you’re not bummed out when they get killed. Taylor and Ferry make the characters decent and nice enough that it felt worse as they start getting knocked off, which makes their deaths sting more than the obnoxious womanizing loudmouth who finally gets what’s coming to him.
When it’s time to deliver on the gory, violent deaths, Taylor doesn’t shy away from making them incredibly brutal and bloody. Early on, it seems like Taylor is going to content simply teasing a malevolent force tormenting the characters, but when the deaths come it takes Fear to another level.
Taylor doesn’t lean too heavy on CGI effects. They’re decent, but the just off camera actions are far more nerve-rattling than entrails of some mystic force swirling around walls and ceilings.
The cast provides better performances than the norm for the genre as well with Sikora, Illonzeh, Bachelor and Goldberg in particular standing out. T.I. has more screentime than a glorified cameo, but he brings such a unique presence to the film that it would have been nice for him to have more of an expanded role.
With so many jump scare thrillers that fail to make much of an impression, Fear feels like a throwback with genuine scares and uneasy moments. It’s well worth conquering your apprehensions and checking this one out.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10
Photo Credit: Hidden Empire Releasing