* Prices may differ from that shown
RELEASED: 2003, Cert.15
RUNNING TIME: Approx. 85 mins
DIRECTOR: K C Bascombe
PRODUCER: Lee Faulkner
SCREENPLAY: John Sullivan
MUSIC: Sari Dijani, Yves Frulla, Johann Martin, Rudy Toussaint & Maurice Williams
Jesse James as Ryan Billings
Kevin Zegers as Dale Billings
Rachel Skarsten as Heather Fontaine
FILM ONLY REVIEW
NB: The Amazon feature refers to the main character, Ryan, as Brian. His name is Ryan!
Twelve-year-old Ryan is terrified of the dark. At night he claims to see and hear things, claiming them to be a product of the dark as an entity. He is also receives psychiatric treatment for his problem.
One evening when his parents decide to go out, Ryan is left in the care of Dale, his 17-year-old brother. When a terrible thunderstorm starts to rage outside, the house is plunged into darkness due to the storm causing a massive power surge, and the phone line also goes dead.
Dale is and always has been rather sceptical of Ryan's phobia, trying to jolly him out of it, but as the evening wears on, he too begins to sense strange things emanating from the darkness.
Is there something lurking in the darkness inside the house? Or is it all down to having an over-active imagination?
That sets the scene....watch it if you are a glutton for punishment!
Right from the outset, it is glaringly apparent that Fear Of The Dark is a very cheaply made film....such sticks out like a sore thumb. The scene is set - that of Ryan's and Dale's parents going out - and it is obvious that the two brothers aren't going to spend a quiet evening playing chess together!
The actor who plays the part of Dale (Kevin Zegers) is a rather good-looking young man, such providing me with a pleasant visual focus during the more tedious parts of the film. However, Kevin Zegers really isn't much of an actor, as I found his delivery to be totally characterless, appearing almost as if he was reading the script....reciting a fairy story to a group of small children. Jesse James as Ryan was a little better, but unless he improves as he gets older, I can't see him standing on a stage receiving an Oscar at any time in the future. On second thoughts, this film is almost 10 years old, so he's all grown up now.
The music to Fear Of The Dark, as far as the main score which runs throughout the film is concerned, is fairly avant-garde, contemporary-sounding and contains a lot of weird choral voices mixed with random percussive noises and plucked strings. This music isn't actually too bad at all, but that which opens and closes the film is rather bizarre. This opening and closing piece is odd in the sense that it actually for the most part is a rather good, traditional-sounding rock'n'roll creation, but is totally ruined by the vocals which largely are comprised of some intensely annoying yodelling. If the vocals could have been removed from the track, leaving it as an instrumental, then it'd be a brilliant piece of music.
There are quite a few special effects in Fear Of The Dark, but nothing which hasn't already been done before, and better. Also, far too much reliance is played on them. I would have preferred to see an edge of your seat mystery element running throughout the proceedings, concentrating on the element of phobia from the psychological aspect, rather than what actually does happen.
I can't say that I personally found Fear Of The Dark frightening in the sense that it possibly was intended to be. I believe the direction/production team anticipated that the dark as an entity and what's inside of it (or alternatively what's inside of Ryan's imagination) would be the main chill factor, but for me the scariest part was the thunderstorm. If we had storms that severe here in the UK, I surely would die of terror!
I did find one small part of Fear Of The Dark amusing though....when the raging thunderstorm blitzed all the lights in the house, Ryan strapped several torches to his body and was walking around looking like a coal miner. For some unknown reason, watching him adorned with these torches slightly touched on a small area of my sense of humour.
When all's said and done, Fear In The Dark is a pretty awful film, but it does have more than a modicum of entertainment value in parts. It is stupid, very amateurishly acted and produced/directed, predictable, daft, unconvincing and totally lacking in any kind of credibility, plus there are a couple of boring stretches, but overall it is quite watchable, even if to stick it out to the end is something akin to self-flagellation. Sometimes, truly awful films can be so bad that they are fairly good, and Fear In The Dark falls into this category. I can say with absolute certainty that I never want to watch it again, but don't feel as though I entirely wasted 85 minutes of my life.
I can't really think of anybody who would find Fear In The Dark appealing, except maybe for those who have a morbid fascination for tenth-rate budget horror films. For those of you who have that fascination (and I do a bit myself sometimes), this certainly won't go down as an all-time classic like some of the old Hammer Horrors though.
At the time of writing, Fear Of The Dark can be purchased on Amazon as follows:-
New: from £2.26 to £54.90 (!!!)
Used: from £1.85 to £10.50
A delivery charge of £1.26 should be added to the above figures.
Thanks for reading!
~~ Also published on Ciao under my CelticSoulSister user name ~~