Fear – Short Film Review

An atmospheric and poetically charged study of fear, perception and the human mind…


Here is an excellent example of exactly what a short film can achieve if it tries hard enough. The condensing of as wide a subject matter as fear may seem daunting, but this short hones in on the exact and pure feeling of fear; that which we feel when a shiver runs up our backs when we are alone, or when we think we hear that strange knock in the night. Then director Steve Kahn isolates that feeling, and with precision replicates it on screen by way of silence, the dripping of water, strategic cuts and other cinematic techniques. To pinpoint the feeling of irrational fear is certainly no mean feat, and yet Kahn achieves it here within seconds.

And yet that’s not to say that the short isn’t without its fair share of problems. There are a couple of  moments here which are perhaps a little unnecessary. They are small and seemed insignificant at the time, but looking back the film could have been condensed a little. Also, Jessie Rabideau, who generally does a great job in externalising fear throughout, does struggle somewhat when having to deliver certain lines to herself. It’s no easy task to be the sole actor on screen for fourteen minutes, and there are a couple of lines here which trip her up a little. Still, Rabideau did generally impress me here and I will be intrigued to see what she does next.

There’s an interesting array of horror iconography being referenced and explored here; from mirrors, to blood running down plugholes and even static playing on a television. Given the conscious use of cinematic language and signs Rabideau’s Janet Leigh-esque hair style and look is no coincidence I think. This playing around with film form is a nice addition to what would still have been a compelling and very well made short. With this additional level of discussion interspersed within the short we can ask questions regarding the nature of fear alongside thinking about just how much horror films have shaped our modern day fears and perceptions of horror.

Ultimately this is a short which comes highly recommended by me. It’s very well made, and impressively taps into pure fear in a pure way which few full length films can achieve. It’s nicely produced, intelligently constructed and even has a most welcome streak of humour running through it. Fear is a horror film which takes a look at the world where there is no Norman Bates hiding behind the curtain, no creature lurking in the shadows, and given that fact then asks why we become terrified anyway. We may spend the whole film being pretty damn sure that there is no real threat, thinking that it’s all down to imagination, but who hasn’t thought that before and yet still felt scared?

Summary:

What is the film’s greatest strength? It’s replication of the visceral feeling of fear.

Its greatest weakness? A few lines aren’t necessary and cause Rabideau to stumble.

Would I see it again? Certainly, it’s not quite perfect but it is hugely impressive. It’s lovely to see such a brave short succeed so well.

Thanks for reading, feel free to let your thoughts escape in the comment box below!

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8 comments

  1. Nice review. Looks like this is worth looking into!

    1. Thanks Zoë, it might be worth contacting them on twitter if you would like to review it!

  2. Thank you for sharing. Despite the few minor problems you mentioned that the film has, it certainly sounds like the under fifteen minutes it takes to watch the short is time well spent. I look forward to watching it in the near future.

    1. Give it a go when you can; it’s far more ambitious than most shorts I get sent that’s for sure.

  3. Victor De Leon · · Reply

    Looking forward to this. Nice review. I was sent a private screener and now I will move it to the top of my list. Thanks!

    1. Cool, let me know what you think!
      It isn’t perfect, but I was impressed by its ambition.

  4. I liked it’s style and it had potential but it never really clicked with me. There wasn’t much of a story for me to get involved with the lead character. I’m still confused at how it represents fear. I never once understood what it is that she was afraid of.

    1. I see your point about the lack of story but I think it was focused purely on the experience of fear, how we conjure it up out of nowhere in our minds when we are alone.

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