the fear of 13

A death row prisoner tells his story in . After spending 23 years on death row, convicted murderer Nick Yarris decides to drop all appeals and ask to be executed. Through one highly performative monologue, Yarris tells his story and why he ultimately reached this final decision.

From British documentary filmmaker David Sington comes the story of death row inmate Nick Yarris. The entirety of The Fear of 13 is built around an extended interview with Yarris, which is supported by reenactments. As such, the film is highly evocative of an Errol Morris film, with the film combining the true-crime narrative of The Thin Blue Line with the single interviewee narrative of The Fog of War. Nick Yarris is quite a charismatic individual, who is often quite passionate in the retelling of his story. The events of his life and incarceration are told out of chronological order, with new pieces of information being revealed as the film progresses.

It is in the opening moments of The Fear of 13 when the opening text reveals that Nick Yarris has asked the courts to go through with his execution. As such, the ultimate goal of the film is the reveal why Yarris reached this decision. Nick Yarris is a very captivating subject and his story is quite interesting, even though we all supposedly know how it is going to end right from the get go. That said, their are quite a few surprising revelations in Yarris' narrative. Altogether, The Fear of 13 is an enthralling story of this death row inmate.

8 / 10 stars
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Screening Times:

  • Thursday, February 4, 6:45 PM – Bloor Hot Docs Cinema
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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.