Fear, The (1995)

The Fear (1995)

He’s whatever scares you the most

A group of university friends go to a remote cabin for therapy where each person is supposed to ‘talk’ to Morty, a wooden mannequin in order to overcome their fears. Shortly after the group has divulged their fears, someone starts killing off people one-by-one and Morty starts to appear in unusual places.

 

With a strong premise and iconic villain just waiting in the wings to be given his own horror franchise, The Fear had it all to lose and just about makes sure it loses every single drop. How many horror films can you count that feature a wooden mannequin as a monster? Off the top of my head there’s only one of the segments of Creepshow 2 which featured a Native Indian wooden mannequin coming to life that I can recall. Only that segment was short and sweet – The Fear is relentlessly drawn out.

The premise about each person having to confront their fears was a good starting point. It’s something a little different than the norm (actually thinking about it, I’ve seen this plot device used way too often) and had the potential to deliver something intriguing. More of a psychological thriller for the first half, the film does a reasonable job of introducing the characters and setting the tone. However the group quickly get to the cabin and talk about their fears, rushing through the promising possibilities and getting to the killing as soon as it is feasible. The film then drifts into pseudo-slasher territory, and a half-assed one at that.

The script is all over the shop during the second half, with all manner of confusing occurrences and sequences. Flashbacks, childhood selves coming to warn people, tree spirits appearing and even Morty being given life are never explained. They’re thrown into the mix because they sounded good (or someone took a chainsaw to the script before filming began). Not a lot makes sense.

The film really needed an injection of pace to liven things up as it is hellish sluggish for the most. Death scenes usually do the trick in horror films. As clichéd as they are, some well-planted impactful death scenes can make all the difference to a film’s pace, acting as a jolt or jump-start to a flagging script. However most of the deaths take place off-screen, presumably to keep the “is it Morty or isn’t it Morty?” mystery going. It’s not a gore-type flick so there’s no blood and that other staple of low budget horror films, the nudity, is in short supply. I’m not saying that every film needs to resort to such lengths to entertain but when there’s little else on show, why not pander to the target demographic a little?

Morty looks the part though. The freaky wooden mannequin is just horror cool personified. The actor did a good job of portraying the fact that he is a wooden dummy and so he doesn’t move like a normal person. We get stilted, almost comical, walking and creaky movement but it’s quite realistic and believable. He doesn’t say anything here either so his creepiness is enhanced. It’s a shame they gave him lame one-liners in the sequel and turned him into a farce!

Rather strangely, Wes Craven stars but you won’t find his name anywhere in the crew credits. He makes a cameo and I guess that’s about the highlight of the casting. The characters portrayed are the usual array of stereotypes from the nerds to the bitches to the comic reliefs and the token black guy (who gets killed first – obviously). This bunch is wholly unlikeable and badly written.

 

Overly talky and delivering little after a decent premise except confusion and boredom, The Fear is rather a waste of time and effort. It’s frustrating because all of the tools were there to make a tense psychological horror film, they’re just wasted. At least Morty would return for a sequel……well the least said about that the better.

 

 ★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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