The Fear (1995)
A Killer What?
We have a magic wooden dummy with the name of Morty. Scenes explaining his origin were never filmed but the gist of it is that he was carved by a Native American shaman to protect the tribe after half of them were killed off with smallpox infested blankets. He ended up as a general store mascot before ending up in the possession of the main character’s family. When people tell Morty their fears he takes them and using his considerable magical powers uses that to kill them, though that’s really more in theory than in practice.
Is It Any Good?
NO, but it really is trying to be. This seems like a pretty standard set-up for a horror franchise. We have a group of 38-year-old college students out in the woods on a seminar dealing with their fears. We have a wooden dummy, you tell him your fears, he uses those fears to kill you. But that’s not really how it works. This isn’t some sort of Nightmare on Elm Street or It-like manifestation. Morty kills in very direct and indirect manners but only one character actually ends up dying of their actual fear.
It’s pretty common for people to read this movie in such a way that they interperet Morty is only really alive in the characters’ heads even though he is pretty obviously alive. This is due to the fact that the narrative has Morty’s powers manifest as trippy dream-sequence-like bits causing several red-herring menaces like a serial rapist who may be among the group and the anti-Santa Claus Krampus (they refer to it as Black Peter but the wooden masks seen throughout the film clearly depict Krampus). Make no mistake, Morty is the one doing everything.
In fairness the movie went behind schedule and a good chunk of the movie was never shot and the movie was further hacked to bits after its initial release. You as a viewer can still piece together what’s going on but there are so many moving pieces and they’re shot in such a weird way that it’s easy to get confused.
A lot of people bag on Morty and I’ll cop that he’s not scary in look or name, but I don’t think he’s really supposed to. Morty isn’t Freddy Krueger, he’s a bit more of a psychological menace than that and even if his rubber suit makes him look like a wooden version of Robin Williams in Bicentennial Man it’s still a pretty great rubber suit.
The Fear is a pretty common punching bag for horror movie critics but it’s really not the fiasco people want to play it off as. It’s neither a nutso unintentional comedy masterpiece nor a boring slog, it’s really just a messy mood piece that doesn’t quite gel into anything particularly enjoyable. Also the night scenes are too dark. The movie did get what appears to be a more conventional horror movie sequel in 1999 that features a much worse-looking Morty and looks to be just atrociously bad if the trailer is any indication.
There’s a lot on this movie’s mind it just does a bad job in communicating those thoughts. Watch Pin instead.
Watch, Toss, or Buy?
If you bought that Killer Tongue DVD I mentioned yesterday then you probably also own a copy of The Fear. Give it a watch sometime, otherwise feel free to toss it.