‘Fear’ overview: Overwrought COVID horror

Deon Taylor is an interesting determine, having solid his personal path as a Black filmmaker in Hollywood, independently producing, and now distributing, his movies. He additionally appears to be single-handedly protecting the mid-budget grownup thriller alive (see: “The Intruder,” “Black and Blue,” “Traffik”). He’s rigorously targeted on the craft of filmmaking, however he’s additionally obsessive about serving a multicultural viewers that goes largely underserved by sure swaths of the trade. A worldwide pandemic was definitely not going to derail his mission, and in his newest movie, the horror flick “Fear,” Taylor takes the pandemic head-on, using our collective anxieties because the grist for his storytelling mill.

“Fear” is a COVID film, and a contagion movie, and a haunted home story rolled into 100 feverishly stylized minutes. Joseph Sikora stars as horror novelist Rom, who takes his girlfriend, Bianca (Annie Ilonzeh), on a weekend getaway in Northern California as a reprieve from the pandemic lockdown. They arrive on the rustic Strawberry Lodge and as he’s about to suggest, he blanches and falters, as an alternative revealing that he’s invited their group of mates to rejoice Bianca’s birthday. They’ve bought the lodge to themselves for the weekend, and severely, don’t fear in regards to the extremely creepy innkeeper who leaves them a horrible bottle of wine, or the detailed tales that Rom tells in regards to the miners who tortured and killed Indigenous girls considered witches. Nope, nothing to fret about in any respect.

As the chums confess their phobias across the campfire as a way of catharsis, the story unfolds each which approach. There’s the concern of contagion and paranoia that units in, particularly after a information report a couple of new variant, and as Lou (rapper T.I.) turns into more and more ailing. There’s the “Brujas of Fear” taking maintain of their minds, because it turns into clear that Rom mixed his e-book analysis together with his weekend getaway. However are these mates letting their very own concern infect one another, or is it the brujas, as a result of that’s an vital distinction.

“Fear” depends on craft for creating environment and stress — the sickly greenish handheld cinematography by Christopher Duskin, the pounding rating by Geoff Zanelli and the impeccable sound design. However the script, by Taylor and John Ferry, proves that it’s attainable to have too many concepts for only one movie. Taylor’s different outings, like “The Intruder” and “Black and Blue,” have been sleeker and extra streamlined high-concept initiatives; in “Fear” it looks like he’s throwing every little thing on the wall — thematically and aesthetically — to not see if it sticks, however as a result of he so enthusiastically needs to do all of it. The overwrought screenplay, nonetheless, doesn’t get deep sufficient with the characters, or enable something to breathe.

Deadliest of all, “Fear” is simply not scary. The bounce scares don’t land, the fears themselves are all a bit foolish and it looks like Taylor is holding again for almost all of the run time. An hour in, the setup remains to be happening as Rom rummages by means of previous images, placing collectively connections the viewers has by no means been aware of. We’re each forward of those characters, who’re a bit of too dumb to root for (apart from Bianca, a wonderful “final girl”), and taking part in catch-up on the identical time. It doesn’t begin ripping till the previous few minutes, when the movie ought to have been unleashed the whole time.

In the end, Taylor’s purpose with “Fear” is to argue that we shouldn’t let concern rule our lives, however he doesn’t a lot as present why that’s quite than simply repeat it. However set in opposition to a world pandemic, the movie proves the alternative — carefully, concern is usually a good factor.

Katie Walsh is a Tribune Information Service movie critic.


Rated: R, for bloody violence and language

Operating time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

Taking part in: Begins Jan. 27 normally launch