The Fear (London Film Festival 2013)
Jordi Cadena, the director of The Fear, is very keen early on to punish the viewer through unpleasant images, with a very long close-up of a toilet filling up with urine within the first few minutes. The rest of the film isn’t too dissimilar.
The Fear places itself as an ultra-serious, minimalist take on how domestic abuse can tear a family apart. Well, it’s hardly a revelation, and is explained through a family’s quiet breakdown. The mother and her two very young children are terrified of the violent father, not so secretly waiting for him to leave. Coping methods involve running away, hiding in bed, or just putting up with it.
The dramatic climax is completely unearned and pulled off with heavy-handed direction (the daughter covers her doll’s eyes). So much of The Fear is laughable, yet it’s a serious subject worthy of a more mature treatment – one that actually has something to say.
It’s easy to criticise slow films where supposedly nothing happens. The Fear, however, wallows in its own emptiness while attempting to be important. The tone swings inconsistently between realism and failed symbolism – the latter made even worse by trite dialogue that forms an unfortunate punchline. (“You wanted me to be alone.”)
The Fear attempts to send a message, and it does: try harder with your next film.
The Fear is part of the London Film Festival’s “Dare” strand. Screening information can be found here.
72 mins approx