Fear may be corny and on the nose, but it has a good vibe and provides plenty of excitement in this dump month of January.

REASON: A much-needed getaway and party weekend turns into a nightmare due to a contagious airborne threat.

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

Fear is one of the first films to be shot in 2020 after Covid took the world by storm. And this is in every part of the film’s DNA. There is an airborne infection; the world seems to be ending and they are paranoid about each other. Does that sound familiar? Although it can be a bit 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 earlier, but much still feels relevant today. It’s always such a relief to have a horror film that isn’t riddled with stereotypes, and it does a good job of avoiding them, although the characters could have used it to add some personality.

One thing I would really count against Fear is that most of the characters really blend together. There are not many different 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. Especially I would say YOU and Annie Ilonzeh stood out the most as they had some meat to their characters. I’m a big one Ruby Modine damn, so I was disappointed with how little she got to do here.

There is a lot of exposition that needs to happen to fully understand all the rules of fear. Witch? Demon? Ghost? It doesn’t really matter because despite being the main antagonist, the characters are really fighting their own fears. What kind of kneecap does the villain have? Then the special effects, with a strange black ooze that looks eerily like Venom, do them no 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 delivered nonstop through dialogue. But by having the main character, a writer doing research for his book, his discoveries make sense.

Annie Ilonzeh in Fear (2023).

Director Deon Taylor delivers a fast-paced and terrifying horror film. Everything is so visually interesting that I didn’t even realize how little had happened in the first hour. He really leaves you reeling in the suspense. I’m worried that repeated viewings will hurt it, because while many of the setups are good, they kind of end. The kills are pretty by the numbers, and I was shocked to see the movie was rated R as it feels like a heavy PG-13. Given the supernatural element and the use of fear, I wish the deaths were more imaginative. Standard jabs, chops and chokes feel tame. Especially since a lot of the time they have nothing to do with the associated fear.

I’m sure Fear will be divisive. It’s definitely for more of the casual horror fan, but I’m not going to let a few moments of corniness ruin what is otherwise a fun ride. And I absolutely loved how the movie looked, where the scare sequences really stood out. Too many movies look the same these days, so I’ll always recommend anything that goes beyond being 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 27, 2023.

Annie Ilonzeh and Joseph Sikora in Fear (2023).

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