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A 16 year old girl takes up with a charming young man who quickly shows his colors when he beats a friend simply for walking with her and then goes totally ballistic after she tries to break up with him.
For more about Fear and the Fear Blu-ray release, see Fear Blu-ray Review published by Brian Orndorf on February 9, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Reese Witherspoon, William Petersen, Alyssa Milano, Amy Brenneman, Gary Riley
Director: James Foley
» See full cast & crew
Fear Blu-ray Review
Feel the vibration.
Reviewed by Brian Orndorf, February 9, 2013
Before he was Mark Wahlberg, king of Hollywood, he was once Marky Mark. A flexing rapper with his group The Funky Bunch, Wahlberg enjoyed some degree of MTV-assisted success, but clearly there was no future in shirtless video dancing and the occasional modeling campaign. Acting was his big ticket out, and the industry welcomed him with open arms, feeding him supporting work in "The Basketball Diaries" and "Renaissance Man," but the real test of Wahlberg's skill as a potential leading man arrived with 1996's "Fear." Handed a role that required a certain level of insular emoting and broad display of serpentine brawn, Wahlberg was a perfect candidate for the part, guided by director James Foley, who was coming down from a career high working on 1992's "Glengarry Glen Ross." Cruelly, instead of creating a feature of sinister ooze, the production serves up a laughable thriller that's one of the all-time goofiest movies, avoiding a tough inspection of troubling emotional speeds and stunted communication to sneeze out a confused, half-realized story of obsession and domination, with the layers of ultimate evil handed to a guy who can't act.
In Seattle, harried father Steven (William Petersen) is trying to keep up with work demands while tending to the needs of his blended family, including wife Laura (Amy Brenneman), daughter Nicole (Reese Witherspoon), and stepson Toby (Christopher Gray). Uncomfortable with Nicole's development into womanhood, Steven futilely attempts to control his daughter's wardrobe and attitude, only to find himself failing to hold on to his little girl. The relationship grows complicated with the arrival of David (Mark Wahlberg), an older, mysterious guy who's immediately drawn to Nicole, yet can't quite silence his inner thug, yet Steven is the only member of the family to notice this disturbing behavior. As Nicole is consumed by the romance, she also becomes aware of David's dark side. However, it's too late to break up with the creep, who's now willing to kill anyone who steps between him and his love, declaring war on Steven once daddy dearest starts to raise objections about the pairing.
The potential of "Fear" to develop into an unsettling movie of disturbing behavior is right there for the taking, yet Foley and screenwriter Christopher Crowe have a different dramatic direction in mind. After all, the premise is just fantastic, preying on parental anxiety and control issues, along with the cold reality of teen maturation and eventual homestead exit, often triggered by the suspect attention of a shadowy romantic figure. "Fear" should've mined the discomfort to a point of explosion, relentlessly poking Steven with images of David stealing Nicole's heart away, leaving the father completely helpless as his girl develops into a woman with the aid of a deceptive lowlife. The feature had an open net in terms of scoring with surefire panic scenarios and tremendous psychological erosion, playing matters carefully to maximize suspense.
Unfortunately, "Fear" has no interest in subtlety, preferring to keep scenes as obvious as possible, turning the ominous endeavor into an R-rated "After School Special" that eventually breaks down into complete absurdity. David appears to be the primary problem with the picture, with his ultimate motive for possessing Nicole one of the film's many unanswered questions. It's difficult to tell what's going through the character's mind as he works to pull the girl away from her family, as Wahlberg is far too blank of a performer to effectively communicate the monster's end game. Although "Fear" suggests it's a tale of obsession, there's no concrete evidence to back this up, with David's sexual appetites casually moving over to Nicole's abused pal Margo (Alyssa Milano) out of nowhere, confusing the intensity of his supposedly unwavering fixation. Theories that David is simply bonkers also fail to congeal, finding the character too aware of his deeds and invested in his roving gang of crack-smoking idiots to write off as delusional. The casting of Wahlberg also comes to kneecap the feature, as his inability to execute complex expressions of malevolence and seduction ruin the overall tension of "Fear," reducing David to a thick-tongued stooge any parent (and girlfriend) would be immediately suspicious of.
"Fear" didn't have to be smart, but I wish basic logic played a larger role in the picture, with the screenplay failing to explain why the cops aren't involved with the David discussion, considering his extensive criminal history. Steven also doesn't defend himself with any great passion, accepting false accusations of violence against David without protest, killing any sympathy for the beleaguered dad. Foley doesn't challenge plot developments, swept up in the madness of it all, cranking up the Bush and masterminding truly ridiculous scenes of David's dedication to parental combat, turning a pointed finger at his chest into a bruise to frame Steve and, in the film's finest act of ludicrousness, giving himself a cheap and easy "Nicole 4 Eva" chest tattoo with a razor blade and pen ink. Various acts of intimidation are equally howl-worthy, playing up Wahlberg's gifts with brute force. At one point, I thought the twist of the movie was going to be that Nicole was actually blind the entire time.
Fear Blu-ray, Video Quality
The VC-1 encoded image (2.35:1 aspect ratio) presentation emerges from the Universal archives with some visible age, not quite up the HD standards we have today. Shadow detail is often murky, clouding evening sequences to a moderate degree, losing the subtleties of location and set design particulars, while contrast in a touch unsteady. There's some filtering in play here, diluting the presence of grain, also softening rigorous movement. Some mild haloing is detected. Colors are in fine shape, having the advantage of a gorgeously shot picture that utilizes the deep greens of northwestern woods, while Steven's blazingly red car makes a strong impact. Hues from costuming and neon lighting also remain stable and inviting. Skintones are natural, accentuating Nicole's virginal appeal and David's coldness. Detail is generally acceptable, making action within the frame easily surveyed, while close-ups capture the fresh feel of skin, highlighting satisfactory textures and emotional cues. Violence and gore shots also supply adequate punch.
Fear Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The 5.1 DTS-HD MA sound mix is truly a showcase for the soundtrack selections, which carry a pronounced circular hold as the alternative hits of the 1990s feed into the surrounds with ease, featuring crisp instrumentation and a pleasingly heavy bass. Dialogue exchanges are a little less electric, sounding firm but unremarkable, keeping to a center position that isn't always as commanding as hoped for. Voices aren't missed, but sound is a little buried at times. Scoring is responsive without steamrolling over the performances, nicely balanced and implemented throughout. Atmospherics sustain a presence, with welcome sounds of lakefront property bringing the location to life, while violence is appropriately amplified, offering controlled chaos once the final siege begins, absent a true sense of directional movement. No distortion was detected.
Fear Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Fear Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The home invasion climax of "Fear" is more depressing than exhilarating, watching the feature lower itself to a dog beheading (one doesn't have to be an animal lover to wonder what the heck the production was thinking with this idea) and child endangerment to keep viewers artificially unnerved, switching the tone from menace to madness, absent a welcomingly daffy exploitation touch. Coming at the end of such a silly movie, the leap into cheap shock value is to be expected -- a desperate act from desperate filmmakers. "Fear" could've been amazing, but it consistently refuses to take the premise seriously, looking to entertain teenage audiences with scares instead of selecting a more interesting route of unease, hitting them squarely in the face with the cold reality of bad decisions.
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Fear Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Fear Blu-ray - October 12, 2012
In an announcement to retailers, Universal Studios revealed its plans to bring Fear to Blu-ray early next year. Directed by James Foley, the dramatic thriller stars Mark Wahlberg (The Fighter), and Reese Witherspoon (Walk the Line), supported by William Petersen ...
Fear Blu-ray, Forum Discussions
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