Fear Itself full movie review - A Fantastically Hypnotic Ramble Through The Fear-Inducing Power Of Cinema
An exclusive-to-BBC-iPlayer (sort-of)-documentary, which is (sort of) about how and why horror movies scare us, 'Fear Itself' is a peculiar, esoteric, wonderful little treat of a film.
In a manner reminiscent of Mark Cousin's epic and fantastic documentary series 'The Story of Film: An Odyssey', combined with Mark Gatiss' delightful documentary strand 'A History of Horror', director Charlie Lyne - with 'Fear Itself' - does away with conventional documentary structure (i.e. linear narrative, talking head interviews, objective in-depth analysis), and instead presents us with a stream-of-consciousness ramble from a fictional, unseen Narrator (played/voiced by the lyrically dulcet Scottish tones of Amy E. Watson), who hushedly guides us through a smorgasbord of clips from over 100 years of horror film-making.
Over an eclectic tapestry of fearful scenes from films you'd expect (such as 'Ringu', 'Don't Look Now', 'Suspiria', and a Lynchian double-bill with 'Lost Highway' (via the Mystery Man) and 'Mulholland Drive' (via...NOT the creature behind Winkies Diner, weirdly)) and other films you wouldn't expect in the slightest (such as 'Gravity', 'Brazil', and 'Hollow Man'), the Narrator weaves a thesis on the nature of fear in cinema, and fear itself (naturally), via a fictional narrative of her character that just so happens to tie in with the films turning up on-screen while she speaks (like with 'Martyrs' and 'The Strangers').
Watson's mesmerising voice, alongside the words she speaks, as well as the barrage of clips from films familiar and obscure, coupled with the extraordinary music and unnerving sound design, help make 'Fear Itself' an exceptionally hypnotic viewing experience, which transfixes you from beginning to end.
Plus, it makes you appreciate the craft of not just horror film- making, but the sheer visceral power of the moving image itself, and the ways in which the best movies can effect you just through the way they look and sound.
Even better, it introduces you to a whole host of old and new foreign films that you'll never have heard of before, but which you will definitely want to seek out once you see the images from them that 'Fear Itself' shares with you.
A perfect film to watch in the run-up to Halloween.