Director: Vincent Robert
Screenplay: Rob Ford
Cast: Eddie Bowz (as Richard); Heather Medway (as Ashley); Ann Turkel (as Leslie); Vince Edward (as Uncle Pete); Darin Heames (as Troy); Anna Karin (as Tanya); Antonio Lewis Todd (as Gerald)
A Night of a Thousand Horror (Movies) # 13
The Fear has a potentially killer premise. Richard (Bowz) is a grad student who decides to make his thesis in psychology a group therapy session where a small group including himself analysis their own fears in his family's old home and overcome them. There, the group find a disturbingly realistic wooden mannequin that was used for fashion display, it's prescience helping to bring out the traumas of the guests, including Richard's over the death of his mother and strange dreams he is having, with the possibility that the mannequin is alive.
If anything the film has a lot of promise. Its slap bang in the middle of poor mid-nineties fashion, and even as someone with an embarrassing lack of knowledge about hip-hop I could choose better tracks to play on the soundtrack, but it reels in you for something interesting with strange dreams opening the film of masked people and freshly made graves in the middle of the woodland. The late Wes Craven plays the teacher who encourages Richard to try his idea, informing him that he should find the missing piece of himself while at the home, setting up the plot line. There's also the bizarre fact that it's effectively a Christmas film even if set out of season. A creepy Christmas themed fairground Richard's uncle (Edward) has plays a part for a key sequence which, with Black Peter statues and dark corridors amongst the rides, would've made a great setting by itself and changes the pace of the movie briefly when its mostly a psychological drama with mannequin based creepiness at first.
The Fear eventually tries to cram so many plot points into itself however that it gets ridiculous. The death of a mother, possible incest, fear of water, stolen money, contempt for religion and a campus serial rapist is amongst the plot points for such a small cast of characters, unable to develop most of them properly when one could've stretched a single narrative. That it's also tackling more serious content becomes problematic from this because of its awkward tonal shifts; the campus rapist subplot, a large portion of the film which includes a female character in the main cast being raped, becomes deeply inappropriate and bungled, out of place with the content of a spooky post-Night on Elm Street narrative. The film also confuses to a detriment the point of the mannequin. It's an excellent creation, more so as it's clearly an actor in full body costume and prosthetics at points even when not moving, but The Fear confuses whether it's completely evil or punishing the guilty, the confusion especially with the more problematic subject matter causing further issues. What could've created an iconic horror character for the nineties fails, lost to obscurity, because of how it fails to keep to one idea and do it well.