Fear


Year 1990

Ally Sheedy as Cayce Bridges 
Lauren Hutton   as   Jessica Moreau
Michael O'Keefe as Jack Hays
Pruitt Taylor Vince   as   Shadow Man
 
Director - Rockne S. O'Bannon  
Screenwriter - Rockne S. O'Bannon

Fear is a clever little film that manages to generate suspense the old fashioned way - tense scenes. It's an Ally Sheedy "star" vehicle which is both good and bad.

The plot, original for the time, is that real psychic Bridges (Sheedy) who has helped police solve murders becomes embroiled in tracking down a serial killer. The twist is that this serial killer knows that he's being tracked psychically. So Bridges, usually in the role of voyeur, now becomes not only the hunted but also an emotional extension of the killer. It makes for some interesting interactions.

The reason that this film is under the "Not Shabby" category isn't because the acting is great or there are good lines or even that the plot holds together. It's mainly because the writer/director avoids the pitfalls of other slasher movies.

Here's an example. Bridges is a single woman who just moved into a new home. She meets her neighbor. In a typical slasher movie either the neighbor is the slasher or the neighbor is killed by the slasher. Here, it's neither. The neighbor, Hays (O'Keefe), is just an average guy trying to make points with the cute and single Bridges. He helps out and ingratiates himself by offering support. And face it, who wants to see Danny Noonan as a psycho killer? He might be able to pull it off, but why should he?

Then there's Ally Sheedy. Of all of the people from the The St. Elmo's Fire and The Breakfast Club Brat Pack, she never had her moment in the sun. How did Molly Ringwald become a sex symbol? Or even a successful actress? What about Anthony Michael Hall? A star athlete in Johnny Be Good? Why didn't Ally Sheedy, the cute, pert, petite Ally Sheedy, get a big break? Was it because she followed it up with bad movies like Blue City? Or was it because she's not that good of an actress to begin with?

In Fear she's the weakest link. Maybe I can buy her as a psychic. Maybe I can buy her as a scared victim. Maybe I can even buy her as a successful author. Maybe. But her transformation into a super heroine who jumps onto moving Ferris Wheels is too much to buy.

The voice acting by Pruitt Taylor Vince is what makes this movie. In many scenes, Bridges can only watch the killer nicknamed Shadow Man. But Shadow Man can talk to Bridges telepathically. Vince's voice contains a combination of pathos and insanity that keeps this movie from sinking.

Lauren Hutton is in the movie as the androgynous and maybe lesbian literary agent for Bridges. Sorry, but there's always been something not quite desirable about Hutton. She's pretty but doesn't inspire me with lust. She tries to be seductive but it just comes off as being creepy.

There are a couple of scenes where you just say, "Huh?" One is when Bridges is describing the current location of Shadow Man. He's climbed a fence in a nice neighborhood and entered a house thanks to a key under a fake rock. As Bridges describes the Shadow Man in the living room of the home, one of the police officers with Bridges asks her, "Is there a trophy on the television set?" That's some police officer. He can pinpoint the house on the most generic of clues.

The end scene takes place at an amusement park. Why? Maybe Rockne S. O'Bannon liked The Lady from Shanghai which had its climax in a fun house of mirrors. (What kind of first name is Rockne, anyway? I've heard of Knute Rockne, but never something like Rockne Balboa.) The choice of location is not that bad but the ease with which both Shadow Man and Bridges break and rip through the mirrors to end up on the third floor of a building and only a few feet away from a Ferris Wheel's unoccupied gondola is a bit much.

Still, it's better than most and does not rely on special effects or jarring sounds to make you grip your seat. In a lot of ways this movie reminded me of Se7en although this came out in 1990 versus Se7en's 1995 release. No nudity or profanity but there is some blasphemy. If a girl doesn't mind the sight of blood, then this has some chick flick potential.


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