Fear poster

It’s not unusual for a writer to coordinate the obligations of their professional and personal lives to best advantage, but investigating the concept of fear in the context of the mythology of the Americas with particular interest in an area of northern California where gold miners were allegedly cursed by a group of local women known as “Las Brujas,” Rom Jennings might have mentioned to his girlfriend Bianca that her surprise belated birthday trip was pulling double duty.

Meeting with a group of long-standing friends and Rom’s agent Michael, already pressing for an outline if not a chunk of manuscript, they are greeted by Mrs Wenrich who tells them they are the only guests staying at Strawberry Lodge, the perfect post-pandemic getaway, though with Rom concealing an engagement ring in his pocket and avoiding popping the big question, when around the campfire he asks the others to talk about their deepest fears the boys already know that his own is commitment.

Fear; Mrs Wenrich (Michele McCormick) follows the tradition of memorialising the guests of the Strawberry Lodge.

Opening with a montage of red-tinted images representing archetypes of threat, danger, abandonment and loneliness as well as more specific triggers such as burning crosses and snakes, Fear is a consciously modern ensemble led horror directed by Deon Taylor from a script co-written with John Ferry which suffers from the outset with its large cast playing best friends who know each other well while to the viewer they are strangers who make no effort to introduce themselves.

A parade of faces played by Joseph Sikora (Rom), Annie Alonzeh (Bianca), Andrew Bachelor (Benny), Ruby Modine (Serena), Iddo Godlberg (Michael), Terrence Jenkins (Russ), Jessica Allain (Meg), Tip Harris (Lou) and Tyler Abron (Kim), despite the nod to George Orwell with Rom and Bianca being placed in Room 101 they and their friends are as underdeveloped as their generic middle-class fears, not being trusted, letting their children down, losing a precious necklace, and unfortunately the most interesting character, Michele McCormick’s Mrs Wenrich, is swiftly absented having served her purpose dual purpose of hostess and harbinger.

Fear; wandering the corridors, Michael (Iddo Godlberg) has been to better parties.

Bianca nervous about travelling due to underlying health conditions, Benny suspicious of Lou’s persistent cough and Rom conspicuously avoiding telling anyone that Strawberry Lodge was meeting place for a cult who would allegedly harvest souls as food for immortality, it is little surprise that the evil still permeates the site even before a cache of evidence is conveniently found in the basement, manifesting as increasing paranoia, patchy wi-fi signal and Schrodinger’s seat belt, worn from some camera angles but not others.

The single scene of the women alone together showing an empathy and honesty which would have humanised the rest of the film had they formed the core of the story, knowing that the characters are acting irrationally because they have been poisoned by a courtesy bottle of cursed wine does not make their stupidity and tantrums any more interesting, Fear spiralling downwards into obvious tropes when a stronger atmosphere of encroaching dread and a more coherent direction might have lived up to the ambitious title.

Fear will be available on digital download from Monday 26th February

Fear; Bianca (Annie Alonzeh) begins to question their role in the long history of the sinister site.



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