Fear (Arrow Recommends)

Fear (Arrow Recommends)
7 10

"Arrow Recommends is a column that has my sorry ass advise older movies to your royal asses. I will be flexible in terms of genres i.e. I will cover whatever the bleep I want. For now, it will be the way to keep my voice on the site."

PLOT: 16 years old Nicole (Reese Witherspoon) falls for pectoral-charged bad boy David (Mark Wahlberg) and her Daddy (William Petersen) isn’t digging it... one bit. When David winds up being a lying, cheating, manipulative sociopath with psychotic fruitcake tendencies – things go from bad to much, much worse.

“It could of all been different, Mr. Walker. You should have allowed nature to take its course. In the end, it will anyway. So let me in the f*cking house!" - David

LOWDOWN: For the most part, the “crazy lover” subgenre has to do with a dame losing her shit a la Fatal Attraction, The Hand that Rocks the Cradle, The Temp and the more recent Unforgettable. Yes we’ve also seen loon-parties with killer dudes in them (like the excellent Unlawful Entry or The Guest), but for some reason, to my incredibly limited knowledge about anything on this entire planet, boyfriends going Coo-Coo for Co-Co Puffs cinematic offerings seem to be scarce. Which brings me to the 1996 psycho-thriller FEAR (WATCH IT HERE or get the DVD HERE) directed by the talented James Foley (who did the powerful At Close Range in 1986 and is now wasting his talent on those 50 Shades of Who Gives a Shit sequels). 

FEAR broke bank in 96 and catapulted its two young stars, Mark Wahlberg ("Back when Mark Wahlberg was Marky Mark; This is how we used to make the party start.") and Reese Witherspoon (they were dating each other at the time - in case you care) to a higher level of stardom. Now I hadn’t seen the picture since its initial release but I remember lapping it up back then. I got to admit, it was even more amusing this time around for the right and the wrong reasons. Lets carve this one open, pull out its entrails and see wassup!

Any dad with a daughter will relate to William Petersen's mind numbing woes in this movie. Seeing your little girl become a woman, having to learn to let go and not be overtly protective while knowing damn well how guys are out there (they are dogs)… yeah… could drive any man insane. And FEAR did an excellent job at exploring said theme with a surprisingly mature and earnest streak. I bought into the drama and the Father/Daughter dynamic (with all of its layers) wholesale, mostly due to the solid writing and the organic performances by Petersen and Witherspoon (who was beyond adorable in this film). 

They handled the sociopath/poon-hound character of David earnestly as well. In fact, remove the killings and FEAR almost acted like "The Player's How to Mack Chicks Handbook" put down on celluloid, as all the standard "get in her pants" tricks were displayed. It should be stabbed that Mark Wahlberg was more than up for the task for this charismatic yet despicable role. His soft spoken, puppy dog eyes thing with his “made in gym” body was ideal. He sold the “ faux tender” moments and when he let her rip, his violent streak felt genuine (all about that beat down he gave that poor schlep – brutal). Dude pretty much stole the movie.

What I didn’t remember about FEAR is just how funny it was! Intentionally, the tit-for-tat dick-measuring contest David and the Dad played together killed me ("Now I've popped both your cherries"...lol). Even better was Wahlberg’s many out of line quips to the Dad which had me in stitches! Lines like: I also know you ain't keepin' up, so to speak, your end of the bargain with the misses. Cause if you were she wouldn't be all over my stick.” - murdered me. And the unintentional laughs were here in spades as too with Wahlberg’s “licking his lips with a yeah bitch" facial expression while he gets his girlfriend off having me spit my cup-a-soup in my cup-o-lap. PS: The “Nicole, get me a Coke” line = sheer genius.

Chuckles aside, FEAR also delivered in the suspense department as David’s jealous ways compellingly grew and grew until they reached a boiling point to give us a visceral finale right out of a slasher flick. Tag to that a beautiful/tense score by Carter Burwell, a good use of BUSH songs (like Machine Head or Comedown), one gory bit that totally back-handed me, smutty/erotic tendencies that I didn’t see coming (all about that roller-coaster ride), Alyssa Milano looking smoking hot, a slick Chucky Doll cameo and all of it wrapped in an effortless pace at that and you get a fun way to kill a buck and a half! So what’s holding me back from giving this one a higher mark?

For one, I kept hoping for more violence. It was Rated R at the time, but one ripper scene aside, it was pretty dry and came off too PG-13 for my tastes. Furthermore, I easily could have done without David’s long-haired, finger pointing abusing, sidekick. Dude was supposed to be threatening but he just came off as a poseur beeyotch that a back-hand would have shut-down in a heartbeat. He got on my nerves. I also think the piece would have been stronger if David was solo as opposed to having a crew of morons having his back. Finally, they went a pinch too far with David’s “obsessive ways”. For example; that bit where we see a pic of the girl’s Dad but with David's face glued on top of it evoked giggles out of me as opposed to the intended dread factor. 

Overall though, FEAR made for an easy watch! Well written and acted and highly entertaining for the right and wrong reasons. The flick got killed by the critics back then but it made so much bank at the box office, it shut them all up. And due to Wahlberg’s and Reese Witherspoon's now superstar status, more and more folks keep discovering it.  If you’ve never tangoed with this one, get your girl or boy, cuddle in bed and give it a whirl! As the end credit roll - thump your chest David style and call time well spent!



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