Kino Lorber // 2011 // 75 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Daryl Loomis // September 13th, 2013
Nothing to fear...but fear itself!
When amateur filmmaker Jason (Aaron Perilo, Sassy Pants) comes across some archival footage of a grisly murder, he gets a great idea. His dad, by chance is just beginning a restoration of the house where it took place and, if he can sneak inside with his buddies and film a night in this cursed place, the footage will surely get him into his dream film school. As soon as they're inside, he starts pulling tricks to make the place seem haunted and scare his friends, but the joke's on him when there really is a ghost in the place.
On the box, Fear Not is advertised as found footage, so imagine my delight when, after a brief bit of grainy introduction, the story begins in the third person. I'm so tired of the subgenre that even that little thing is encouraging. Of course, more than found footage, what I'm really tired of is bad horror, so I quickly sunk back to where I started as Fear Not really has nothing going for it.
The biggest problem is its lack of stylistic focus, which seems to be as much attributable to supposed cleverness as simply bad decision making. As the movie goes on, it switches between first and third person, regular camera to night vision, and all sorts of little touches that make it feel far too jagged than any movie should. Were it scary, then one might easily praise the effectiveness of those choices, but for as straightforward as it might seem to write suspense into a ghost story, there's nothing of the sort here.
Mostly, it's a group of annoying characters in a house dying off one after another, which just doesn't seem like enough anymore. There's nothing creative about the deaths and, without any tension, nothing exists to drive the plot, just bad acting and awkward, confusing direction. An old-timey looking ghost boy doesn't chill the spine on any level and the ill-thought conceit of changing perspective all the time does nothing but confuse the story.
There's nothing painfully bad about Fear Not, but just hours after finishing the movie, I'm already starting to forget what actually went on in it. Ghost movies sort of run together anyway, but this one was nondescript from its very first moments. The only thing that differentiates it from any number of other independent ghost movies is its chaotic style, but that's also the most irritating thing about it, so that isn't exactly a ringing endorsement. I can't really hate the movie, but there's nothing about it to recommend, either.
Kino Lorber has put together a very basic DVD release for Fear Not. The 1.78:1 image looks fine, with a perfectly decent transfer, though the intentional damaging of the archival footage means it varies in quality a little bit. It definitely looks like the cheap movie it is, but the colors and black levels are reasonably strong for an overall average look. The sound is about the same; there's no hiss and dialog is always pretty clear, but it's a flat surround mix that is nothing special. There are no extras on the disc.
Fear Not is about as unmemorable a movie as you're going to get. Not terrible, but unfocused, not scary, and totally unremarkable in every way, it has the clear smack of someone's first film. There's no reason to believe Gullo will improve in future projects but, for now, it's back to the drawing board.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Kino Lorber
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 75 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
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