Fear (2023) Review


Fear may be corny and on the nose, but it’s got some great atmosphere and provides plenty of thrills in this January dump month.

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PLOT: A much-needed getaway and celebration weekend becomes a nightmare due to a contagious airborne threat.

REVIEW: Fear is universal, and it’s prevalent in nearly every horror movie since the dawn of cinema. Whether it’s a monster feeding off a victim’s fear to grow stronger or to make their meal tastier, it’s an element that’s been the center of many stories. So it’s great to see a film take so many everyday fears like drowning and claustrophobia and see them amplified by the supernatural. Because if there’s one thing the viewer can understand quickly, it’s fear.

Fear is one of the first movies filmed in 2020 after Covid upended the world. And this is in every bit of the film’s DNA. There’s an airborne contagion; the world seems to end, and they’re paranoid of each other. Sound familiar? While it can be a little on the nose at points, I really enjoyed the ride. There were several moments that would have hit harder had this film been released about a year sooner, but plenty still feels relevant today. It’s always such a relief to have a horror movie that’s not filled with stereotypes, and this does a good job of avoiding them, even if the characters could have used it to add a little personality.

Joseph Sikora, Annie Ilonzeh, Ruby Modine and Andrew Bachelor in Fear (2023).

One thing I’d really count against Fear is that most of the characters really blend together. There aren’t many distinct personalities. They’re all friends, and they’re all scared. That’s about it. Making them more distinct would have gone a long way, especially since all the actors are good. In particular, I’d say TI and Annie Ilonzeh stood out the most, as they had a bit of meat to their characters. I’m a big Ruby Modine fan, so I was disappointed with how little she had to do here.

There’s a lot of exposition that has to happen to understand all the rules of fear completely. Witch? Demon? Ghost? It doesn’t really matter because, despite it being the main antagonist, the characters are really fighting their own fears. Which kind of kneecaps the villain a bit? Then the special effects, with a strange black ooze that looks eerily like Venom, don’t do them any favors. This physical representation really doesn’t work and will lose some viewers. Even still, I enjoyed it. Exposition can really stand out when it’s being doled out nonstop through dialogue. But, by having the main character, an author researching for his book, his discoveries make sense.

Annie Ilonzeh in Fear (2023).

Director Deon Taylor provides a fast-paced and dread-induced horror flick. Everything is so visually interesting that I didn’t even realize how little had happened in the first hour. He really lets you ruminate in the tension. I worry that repeat viewings will hurt it because while many of the setups are good, they just sort of…end. The kills are pretty by-the-numbers, and I was shocked to see that the film was Rated R as it feels like a heavy PG-13. Given the supernatural element and use of fear, I wish the deaths were more imaginative. Standard stabbings, slashing, and smotherings feel tame. Especially since, a lot of the time, they have nothing to do with the attached fear.

I’m sure Fear will be divisive. It’s definitely for more of the casual horror fan but I won’t let a few moments of corniness ruin what an otherwise fun ride is. And I absolutely loved how the movie looked, with the fear sequences really standing out. Too many movies look the same these days, so I’ll always commend anything that goes above and beyond to be different. While I wish the characters would have been a little more memorable and the deaths more imaginative, I still enjoyed my time with Fear.

Fear is IN THEATERS JANUARY 27TH, 2023.

Annie Ilonzeh and Joseph Sikora in Fear (2023).

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