‘Fear’ Review – Pandemic Horror Movie Sticks Too Close to Genre Tropes and Conventions

The horror genre today has largely tried to keep the current reality off the screen, but some filmmakers would rather comment on what’s going on in the real world. For instance, Deon Taylor’s Fearoriginally titled Don’t Fear and shot back in 2020 is the latest movie to not only be set during the Pandemic, it’s also about the anxieties incurred from living in these trying times. In this punctual tale, Bianca (Annie Ilonzeh) jumps at the chance to get away from everything when her longtime boyfriend, Rom (Joseph Sikora), whisks her away to Strawberry Lodge. And after taking all the proper COVID related precautions, their closest friends join them at this foreboding getaway.

What should have been a belated celebration of Bianca’s birthday — and maybe an engagement if Rom can work up the nerve — quickly turns into a life-or-death situation. Rom picked this historic venue for a certain reason, and it’s not because it would be perfect for a surprise proposal. No, Strawberry Lodge is home to strange myths. And with Rom doing research for his next book, one about the concept of fear, he couldn’t pass up the chance to visit. Unfortunately for everyone, Rom’s sheer arrogance and lack of self-preservation lead to serious consequences.

Fear begins to feel like it’s painting by numbers. Within that first act is a greatest-hits selection of horror tropes: the creepy caretaker who relays cryptic messages, the eerily empty lodge with a dark past, and an evening campfire where someone recounts a local ghost story. Before long, Fear vibrates back and forth between different horror subgenres. After setting up a standard haunted-hotel movie, the characters shelter in place upon learning about a new global contagion. And to make everything even more chaotic, they all start to turn on each other. In addition, there’s a touch of folk horror as Rom uncovers the supernatural origin of their gradually worsening dilemma.

The movie’s own way of introducing these paper-thin characters is to simply reduce them down to their fears. At the previously mentioned campfire, everyone takes turns divulging their greatest fears. One character is scared of drowning, another has an aversion to blood, and someone else is claustrophobic. It comes as no surprise that their fears are later used against them in a series of self-contained, customized set pieces. As visually engaging or conceptually accurate as they sometimes are, these individual moments don’t add much to the overall story.

Regarding its plot or presentation, Fear isn’t too original. At the very least, though, Deon Taylor knows how to keep the movie in constant motion. There are no huge lulls to speak of, and with a good-sized cast to pull from, scenes are always occupied and reasonably dynamic. If expectations are moderate, and knowing full well that this movie is both conventional and a touch overcooked, then Fear may satisfy an itch for mass-hysteria horror and cursed lodges.

Not everyone will want to watch another Pandemic horror movie anytime soon, particularly one that tries to contextualize this period and its zeitgeist using dreadful imagery and barely disguised metaphors. However, Fear has some nostalgic appeal; the summoning of clueless characters to an old and eldritch hotel brings up fond memories of classic cinematic haunters. Fear has a specific timestamp, yes, but its basic story is ageless. For some people, it’s a strange comfort to see this type of movie still being made, although viewers might have preferred it to be less topical and more escapist.

Fear hits theaters nationwide on January 27th.


The post ‘Fear’ Review – Pandemic Horror Movie Sticks Too Close to Genre Tropes and Conventions appeared first on Bloody Disgusting!.