Film, Go To

GO TO: Fear (1996) dir. James Foley

Screens Saturday, 5/6 @ Coolidge Corner Theatre


Fear is the sleeper hit that always seems to escape me—I’ll not watch it for years, and then when I catch it again, I’m baffled by how terrifyingly good it is. For some reason, it passed me by undetected in my teens, as I rifled through any teen movie, horror, or thriller I could get my hands on. By chance, I caught it on TNT on a late, rainy Sunday afternoon, and couldn’t believe I had missed it. Fear, at face value, could easily be passed off as a run-of-the-mill teen horror flick, but it’s so much more than that—think Fatal Attraction and 10 Things I Hate About You mixed with an extra dose of nightmare fuel and a tiny bit of Straw Dogs. Oh, and maybe a sprinkle of Cape Fear.

Set in sleepy, foggy suburbs of the Pacific Northwest, James Foley’s thriller follows Nicole Walker (Reese Witherspoon), a sixteen-year-old living with her well-to-do family. Her father, Steve (William Petersen), her new stepmother, Laura (Amy Brenneman), and Laura’s son, Toby (Christopher Gray) have an idyllic, hazy, and undisturbed life—until Nicole meets David McCall (a formidable, young, and Boston-accented Mark Wahlberg). The two hit it off right away. Nicole is charmed by David’s good looks and revels in his caring nature, and they fall in love.

Reese Witherspoon and Mark Wahlberg in ‘FEAR.’

Concurrently, Nicole’s parents grow wary of David and irritated at his indifference to their wishes. What starts off as an innocent, slightly rebellious relationship spirals into something altogether more nefarious. David reveals his true nature of being possessive, clingy, and jealous. This behavior intensifies, and Nicole begins to come home with bruises and black eyes. As David’s abuse quickly escalates, it dawns on Nicole that the good-looking guy she met at the coffee shop may be not only the end of her but of everyone she loves.

Fear is a violent, enthralling little hit of the 1990s—a true standout in the filmography of both Witherspoon and Wahlberg, though most notably the latter. The Dorchester native’s chameleonic ability to go from heartthrob to murderous menace is commendable and truly frightening. From his sinister smirks to the intimidating use of his physicality, Wahlberg concocts a memorable villain.

Buy tickets for Coolidge After Midnite’s screening of Fear here!

dir. James Foley
97 min.

Screens (on 35mm!) Saturday, 5/6, 11:59 am at The Coolidge Corner Theatre.
Part of the month-long series: Pillow Stalk

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