Monday, 22 October 2012

[REVIEW] - A Fantastic Fear of Everything

Director: Crispian Mills, Chris Hopewell 
Starring: Simon Pegg
Certificate: 15
Run-time: 100 minutes

IN SHORT: A Fantastic Fear of Everything suffers from an inconsistent tone, attempting to be dark, comical and scary and failing at all three! A definite misfire for Mr Pegg.

Here we have Simon Pegg's newest film, A Fantastic Fear of Everything, which is released on DVD and Blu-ray today. However, before you rush out to see it, it's best you know what you're letting yourself in for. Fantastic Fear is, to politely put it, an odd film. It features Freudian psychoanalysis, a gangsta rap soundtrack, a serial killer who listens to Europe's The Final Countdown before butchering his victims and it's directed by Kula Shaker lead-singer Crispian Mills. It's as independent and original as they come but the word 'original' doesn't always equate to good.

The film opens with an extreme close-up of a crazed, unblinking eye. In a clear visual nod to Hitchcock's Psycho, the camera slowly spirals out to reveal Simon Pegg's character, Jack. Jack is a crime novelist who's research into the Victorian underbelly of grotesque serial killers and murderers has sent him loopy.  He is literally scared of everything and so he chooses to stay inside his squalid, dirty flat in complete solitude. He is forced to leave the house, however, when his agent arranges a business meeting with a prospective book publisher. The film follows his struggle to a) leave the house and b) wash his only shirt at the local launderette.

Simon Pegg in A Fantastic Fear of Everything
Jack just wants to write his book but he's plagued by the serial killers he's writing about.

As Jack, Pegg is neurotic, paranoid and completely incapable of functioning in the outside world. His appearance clearly shows he has lost the plot as he nervously creeps around his flat in off-white briefs and a sweat-stained vest. There's nothing wrong with Pegg's performance, in fact it's probably the glue that holds this absurd film together. After half an hour or so though, I found myself annoyed by Jack, as opposed to amused by him. For an educated man he is an absolute idiot. In one scene he attempts to dry his clothes in the oven. Why? Because it's quirky and makes for a supposedly funny slapstick gag...

Fantastic Fear is frustrating. It lacks narrative focus and an over-arching storyline. In fact, without Simon Pegg's narration delivering precious exposition, the film would be gibberish. Almost an hour is spent inside Jack's flat achieving nothing but the tireless narration continues. Perhaps the director had a fantastic fear of editing? One minute Jack is blubbing like a baby on the floor clutching a steak knife, the next he's dancing around his flat listening to gangsta rap. Why does this middle-aged English writer listen to gangsta rap? Again, because it's quirky and funny apparently.

Pegg throws himself into the role but the weak script, mean his effort is wasted
When we're not in Jack's cramped flat, Fantastic Fear has a colour palette similar in style to the films of Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Amelie, Delicatessen). Inside the flat, Mills uses harsh, moody lighting and slanted angles, harkening back to the techniques used in German Expressionist film-making. Super slow-motion, bright colour filters, unwarranted stop-motion animations and flashbacks are also thrown in for good measure. There's no doubt that the film is visually interesting but it all felt a little 'style over substance' for my liking. Almost like the director was putting together a show-reel.

This independent flick failed to make an impression during its limited time in the cinemas and to be honest I can see why. I just don't see where the audience is for this sort of film. Described by Mills as a 'psycho-comedy', Fantastic Fear is never more than mildly amusing no matter how committed Pegg is to the role. A meatier, more refined, story could have elevated it to cult status, instead it's likely to end up forgotten in sales bins across the country.


  1. I remember seeing a trailer for this forever ago and was not impressed. Your review reminded me of its existence and I continue to stay unimpressed lol.

    Pegg is great but you have to forgive him on the rare occasion he messes up. Glad to see you think he does well though, even if the script is awful. I'll def. stay away from it.

    1. Simon Pegg can never do any wrong, he's too likeable. But this film was like an art-school experiment, too much time spent on the look and not on the story. Avoid!

  2. I love Simon Pegg and want him to have my babies (in a metaphorical sense) but I had to stop watching after 3 and a half minutes. Off to watch Hott Fuzz or Shaun to re-establish his genius in my mind. Quickly.

    1. 3 and a half minutes, ouch! Thanks for reading and commenting Tony.




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