There are many classic horror movies that focus on a certain common fear – such as how JAWS made the world afraid of stumbling upon a shark next time they took a dip in the ocean in 1975 or when the foreboding tornadoes in TWISTER reinforced the idea of what a menace mother nature can be in the mid-1990s. However, there are not very many films that revolve around the mere concept of fear itself. That is until now, with the release of the aptly titled, FEAR.
Not to be confused with a 1996 thriller of the same name starring Mark Wahlberg and Reese Witherspoon, the new, 2023 horror movie – which hits AMC Theatres on Friday, January 27th – follows a group of longtime friends who begin to fall prey to a series of disturbing and deadly circumstances. However, things are not quite as they seem and the secret to defeating this horrible nightmare may lie within themselves. Let’s go deeper into the important message that FEAR – one of our latest selections for the AMC Thrills & Chills program – aims to convey.
Fear Itself Is The Main Threat
In 1933, while delivering his inaugural address, then-United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt famously said that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” While this was originally spoken out of hope for America to overcome the Great Depression, the quote still remains a very valuable and highly relevant lesson today and one that director Deon Taylor seems to take to heart. He makes this apparent in his screenplay for FEAR – which he co-wrote with John Ferry – that sees the characters falling prey to the titular concept.
Unlike classic horror movies such as HALLOWEEN or ALIEN, the characters from FEAR are not targeted by a masked serial killer or some vicious creature, but a supernatural force that suddenly brings their worst nightmares to life during a long-awaited reunion. Tensions are already high enough for these longtime friends due to a worldwide pandemic that has kept them apart for years when a new airborne strain leaves them trapped inside a historic California lodge. By borrowing from real-world circumstances, the film aims to be more widely relatable and, as a result, even more realistically scary.
The Characters’ Diverse Fears
In addition to borrowing its pandemic plotline from reality, FEAR tries to widen its spectrum of relatable terror early on in the film by associating each character with a common topic that frightens them the most. Inevitably, these personal nightmares soon become the bane of their existence and drive them to do horrible things to themselves and others. For instance, successful author and fear expert, Rom – played by Joseph Sikora, known from “Power Book IV: Force” on Starz – is afraid of losing his longtime girlfriend, Bianca. Played by Annie Ilonzeh of “Chicago Fire” fame, Bianca is terrified of a few things – most notably her asthma affecting her breathing and the thought of losing her spiritual faith.
Other members of this “fearful” group of characters are played by a few horror veterans – such as HAPPY DEATH DAY star Ruby Modine as Serena, Andrew Bachelor from Netflix’s THE BABYSITTER as Benny, Russ actor Terrence Jenkins, who was on MTV’s “Scream: The Series,” and Jessica Allain, who appeared in Netflix’s TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE before playing Meg in FEAR. We also have Tyler Abron (known best for the BET original holiday movie A RICH CHRISTMAS) as Kim, Iddo Goldberg from TNT’s series adaptation of SNOWPIERCER as Rom’s agent and friend, Mike, and musician and actor Tip “T.I.” Harris, who also produces the film in addition to playing Lou.
The early scene that reveals what each character in the FEAR cast is scared of the most is not just a source of character development. This is also the audience’s first taste of the film’s intended purpose and message: to let go of what we fear.
While the intention of most horror movies is to tap into the audience’s greatest fears and put them through the worst nightmare possible – but, all in good fun, of course – FEAR is a rare kind of entry into the genre that, instead, hopes to inspire its viewers to look beyond what scares them and come out anew. At its core, it is a commentary on how fear often tends to permeate through society in particularly destructive ways and the harm that can come to others and ourselves if we allow it to consume us.
Some of the most famous and influential horror stories have been cautionary tales, but it is rare these days to see the genre used for this purpose. As an attempt to reignite this old-fashioned and valuable means of storytelling for modern movie goers and thrillseekers, FEAR is a worthy entry to consider for AMC Thrills & Chills. See just how thrilling and chilling it is for you when it comes to your local AMC Theatres location on Friday, January 27.FEAR opens January 27th