fear | deon taylor | john ferry | tyler abron | joseph sikora | jessica allain | brujah | witch | witches | coven | ritual | united states | mezi atwood | andrew bachelor | bayardo de murguia | t.i. | chanel gaines | iddo goldberg | annie ilonzeh | terrence jenkins | ruby modine
Director: Deon Taylor
Writers: John Ferry and Deon Taylor
Starring: Tyler Abron, Joseph Sikora and Jessica Allain
This is a movie that I heard about due to going to the Gateway Film Center. The trailer showed ahead of movies that I caught. I put it on the list of ones that if I could make it work out, I’d come back to see. What made me leery was the rating on the Internet Movie Database page. It wasn’t very high. Regardless, I caught this during its opening weekend.
Synopsis: a much-needed getaway and a celebration weekend turns into a nightmare due to the contagious airborne threat.
Now this synopsis is misleading. I’ll get back into why here shortly. This starts off in an interesting way though. Rom (Joseph Sikora) is being interviewed. He is a writer and they want to know about his next book. He says that he is going to investigate the history of fear. The footage then messes up. There could be hidden images in it.
We then shift over to him in the car with his girlfriend, Kim (Tyler Abron). They’re heading to somewhere in the middle of nowhere. Something that should be pointed out is that she deals with asthma. There is a mask hanging from the rearview mirror, showing that this is in a post-COVID world. She gets in a panic when they pull over and he gets out. He wants her to put on a blindfold.
The reason is that he’s rented out an estate in the middle of nowhere. Joining them are their friends. We have Meg (Jessica Allain) with her boyfriend Russ (Terrence Jenkins). There is Benny (Andrew Bachelor), Bianca (Annie Ilonzeh), Serena (Ruby Modine) and Lou (T.I.). Also, there is Rom’s agent, Michael (Iddo Goldberg). What was supposed to happen was Rom proposing to Kim. For whatever reason, he backs down at the last minute.
Regardless, this weekend is supposed to be celebrating Kim’s recent birthday. Rom also has another reason. This place has history. There were supposed to be witches, known as brujahs, who were here. There might also be a gateway to hell in this location. Rom tells a ghost story that first night, which spooks Benny. Everyone goes around telling what their greatest fears are. To say their going to overcome them, they drink a bottle of wine from Patty (Mezi Atwood), the woman who checks them in.
Things start to happen around them that don’t make sense. It gets even worse when they see a news report about a new strain of airborne bacteria that is especially bad. They must quarantine here. That is everyone except Bianca. She is worried about her child who is with a babysitter. Mistrust starts as Lou was sick before coming up. Everyone was tested ahead of time, but that doesn’t change the fact that he has symptoms. This brings everyone’s relationships into question as fear grows.
That is where I’m going to leave my recap and introduction to the characters. Where I want to start is that we have a solid premise. It isn’t a new one as I can think of multiple movies that use fear as the basis. There is The Fear which featured a wooden statue that would manifest what scares you the most. Clive Barker explored this in a short story that was made into the movie Dread. There is also A Nightmare on Elm Street, as Freddy Kruger lives on fear. What this one does though is something a bit outside the box with it. There is only one person with a traditional fear, claustrophobia. Another one has a variation on what I have with fear of losing control. Kim also deals with fearing her asthma. That would be a common one as well. I like using fear as a basis like we are, I’ll give credit there.
Another thing that I think works is the setting. We are isolated. The only people here are our group of characters. This lodge can only be rented as a package. I like that there is a secret in the basement. It is fitting that I watched The Beyond the same weekend as this. There is a bit of a correlation there since there could be a gateway to hell. They also use the Hispanic version of a witch, which in this cause called a brujah. I thought that was a good route to go since the area in California was owned by Mexico for a good stretch. The elements, although not new, are there.
This movie was boring though. That is the biggest gripe for me. They focus on the wrong things. If you know me, I love social commentary when it is handled properly. This doesn’t do that. One of the fears of a character is a legitimate one. They were pulled over as a teen and the police officers assaulted him. This is too on the nose to call out what is happening with the cops effectively. I cringed when this was introduced. Another one is near the end. A character is deeply religious and losing that is part of their greatest fear. We get an image that audible annoyed me. Again, it shouldn’t. I’m not religious so when we make it too much of a point, I check out. I just don’t think these elements are handled well enough.
There is one more gripe. This movie doesn’t state COVID-19. It alludes that the pandemic happen and then on television the first morning they are there, it says there’s a bacterium in the area. I hated this originally. By the end, it ended up working for me and what they’re getting at with it. There was a reveal that I appreciated. What is frustrating is that these are simple things to fix instead of what this decides to focus on. An example is how this was used as opposed to other things I’ve brought up previously.
Let me get away from the story. Next then will be the acting. No one is bad here. I do however think we have bad writing. Things that are said made me cringe with the awkwardness. That can work at times. I don’t think it does here. I liked Sikora as our lead. He’s good there. Abron is as well. Allain, Bachelor, Goldberg, Ilonzeh, Jenkins, Modine and T.I. are all fine. I thought that even Atwood worked. There isn’t a performance here that ruined it. There just isn’t much to work with unfortunately.
All that is left would be with the filmmaking. I think the cinematography is good. This is shot well. The setting works. I like the isolated location. That is always a plus. The effects can be good. There was brutal things that go down and that worked. The blood there was solid. I do believe there was CGI and use of filters. I don’t have a problem with either to be honest. It helps to know as a viewer what is a hallucination. I can see that as a problem at times though. Other than that, the soundtrack fit for what was needed. What I will say here in closing is that this isn’t a poorly made movie on the technical side.
In conclusion, this movie had potential. There are built in things that if they focused on would have made this work. We have a solid cast. The cinematography and effects were good. I don’t even mind social commentary when it is done right. It is just too ham-fisted in. They focus on things that can be explored. It just needed to be done better. This was a hard movie to watch though as I checked out early. I can’t recommend this one.
My Rating: 4 out of 10