Fear (2023) Review: A dull and remarkably messy pandemic horror story
Writer/director Deon Taylor’s latest film, Fear, features a solid premise it can’t capitalize on because of messy execution, problematic subtext, and a general lack of ambition.
The film follows a group of longtime friends heading to a secluded hotel for a weekend getaway during the pandemic. However, after some of them experience strange visions and lucid dreams tied to their greatest fears, they begin to wonder if their horrors stem from the news of a deadlier plague spreading through the air or something much more sinister.
There are certain things about Fear that stand out greatly and show signs of it potentially being a solid horror experience. Its opening credits are pretty rad with them giving some dark, yet fun horror vibes and its secluded setting definitely has an ominous feel to it. Even the idea of it being a true pandemic horror thriller has some good potential with the group fearing that one of their own has become infected. However, Fear’s strengths never stick long enough to be effective and it ultimately becomes a cliché-ridden and messy horror flick.
The characters, while likeable at first, simply become insufferable with time. There are too many characters to keep track of and they’re so thin that you barely remember their names over their generic fears. Plus, the way they just walk into bad situations and even their own deaths makes them incredibly frustrating to watch because they look so dumb. The performances also never reach any meaningful heights and are totally tarnished by the film’s bad script.
Fear features some of the most forced writing moments with it literally spelling out its narrative and character traits through lazy dialogue. There’s so much repetitiveness in the dialogue that it becomes frustrating to hear characters speak and the chemistry between the cast doesn’t stick. You feel like the film is constantly just spilling exposition that it’s already talked about or is totally uninteresting so it’s tough to stay engaged. There also could’ve been some cool aspects to the lore with its ties to local witch stories, but the twists associated to it are painfully obvious, and it never commits to it anyway until the end.
For most of Fear, viewers are simply stuck in its pandemic-centered plot that has some interesting aspects that unfortunately become overtaken by problematic undertones. Personally, the idea of Fear touching on fearmongering and the dangers of succumbing to your fears is intriguing and a generally untouched aspect to some of the pandemic-based films we’ve seen in the last few years. It’s legitimately a fine concept, but there are some noticeable undertones that feel problematic because of how it promotes the idea of fake news and taking gut instinct over facts. Let’s just say that there’s a reason this film didn’t come out during the pandemic like when it was filmed because it probably would’ve received more public backlash.
The most disappointing aspect of Fear though is that it’s just a dull horror flick that’s instantly forgettable. Once it shifts out of its pandemic elements, the film tries to resurface its concept of bringing each character’s fears to life but fails miserably because of how little effort is put behind it. Outside of one head-banger kill, none of scare sequences really leave an impact and feel remarkably lifeless. Fear is honestly a really boring horror movie that features incredibly ugly and dreary cinematography, especially in the “fear” sequences. h. The film also just feels super chopped up with how poorly stitched the editing and audio work are. All in all, Fear is just messy from start to finish, and it literally feels like it just gives up in the end with how sudden and unsatisfying its final act is. Also, the film’s “monster” is covered in atrocious special effects and is just plain pitiful.
Fear shows some potential to be noteworthy in pandemic horror, but utterly fails to be remotely entertaining. It’s really just a total drag that delivers rarely any good scares and doesn’t put together an intelligible nor socially competent story.
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