Hot Docs 2016: Fear Itself

The relationship between horror films and the human desire for fear is explored in Fear Itself. An anonymous female narrator speaks about watching horror films night after night, while recovering from an accident. As clips play from a wide variety of films from the genre, ranging from familiar classics to obscure foreign titles, the narrator speaks about desiring the rush the fear from these films bring.

Filmmaker Charlie Lyne follows up his debut feature Beyond Clueless with another cinematic essay, which this time focuses on the horror genre. Built around its narration by actress Amy E Watson, Fear Itself consists entirely of clips from various horror films. While there are some familiar titles featured, such as Psycho and The Exorcist, there seems to be a heavy focus on obscure or foreign horror films, which would be practically unknown to all but the most devout fan of the genre. As the clips play, the narration talks about how horror films seem to know how to scare you, with you not knowing when fear is going to come.

Even though I was not a fan of Beyond Clueless, I had some high hopes for Fear Itself and I actually believed that the film started off strong, with the documentary being appropriately atmospheric. However, the film started to lose me when it started showing clips from decidedly non horror films, such as Gravity, Elephant, and Alive. This seems to suggest that there wasn’t really a clear sense of direction for the film, with Fear Itself‘s thesis involving the human need for fear being vague at best. I would actually recommended seeking out the more balanced 2014 documentary Why Horror? and staying clear of Fear Itself.

4 / 10 stars

Sean Kelly Author

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described über-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).