A crime novelist, whose research on Victorian serial killers has turned him into a paranoid wreck, must confront his worst fears, when a film executive takes a sudden interest in his movie script.
Release Date: 06-08-2012 | MPAA Rating: R | Runtime: 1 hr 40 mins | Directed by: Crispian Mills, Chris Hopewell | Starring: Simon Pegg, Paul Freeman, Amara Karan
A Fantastic Fear of Everything Review
A Fantastic Fear of Everything was an oddball of a movie. I keep managing to find these bizarre films with actors that I enjoy, but with the most off-kilter production and cinematic style. I feel like this movie is in the same branch of the movie family tree as Guns Akimbo, not in terms of violence or crudeness but in sheer weirdness.
The story of A Fantastic Fear of Everything is a simple one, but I can’t really fault it for that because it’s got all the elements of a standard film plot. Simon Pegg wants to finish his latest writing project and get paid, but to do that he needs to first overcome his fear of…well, pretty much everything. Cue hijinks. It’s a small story so it seems like not a lot is happening (until it does), but in a way I think that works in the movie’s favor. Pegg’s character spends the entire movie scared to death and so anxious I was getting heart palpitations, but in the end it was nothing but a conflict of his own making (well, mostly). He’s his own worst enemy, to absurdly comedic effect.
I’m not saying it’s an award-winning script. It’s absolutely ridiculous and of course full of dry British humor that American audiences may find uncomfortable rather than entertaining (if that’s the case for you then don’t watch it, I guess? Being culturally different isn’t a flaw). It’s not exactly high highbrow comedy either, but I think the goal was to lovingly poke fun at the genre of suspense and detective movies, which it did an okay job at as far as I could tell.
And they give bigotry about as much respect as it deserves–by making a bigot into a bad joke–so that’s kind of fun.
Simon Pegg is over the top, absurd, and hilarious in this movie. I still think he’s at his best when he’s working with Edgar Wright–some writers and directors just have that creative soulmate relationship that brings out the best in each other–but that doesn’t make his performance bad here. It’s all played for laughs and Pegg is obviously the screwball character without a straight man, so I can’t really say any of it was bad acting. If there’s one thing I would critique it would probably be the fact that the straight man was missing, like I just said. Without someone to play off of, Pegg’s whole performance has no grounding. It feels like we’ve descended into some kind of surreal Lewis Carroll fairytale world where the laws of reality bend to serve the best punchline.
This may be where I have the most to critique. This movie is a British comedy film and evidently pretty low-budget. It doesn’t look bad exactly, but it does look like a lot of lower-budget British productions I’ve seen. I can ignore that, but it is something that might distract people who are used to Hollywood production values and cinematic styles. That doesn’t mean people who feel that way are “right,” but it would be an obstacle for some viewers.
Overall I think the production did well with what it had and nothing looked trashy. Lots of scenes looked like they were done on sets, but lots of movies shoot on sets. The trick is some of them are better at making sets look like real locations than others.
This review was weird for me because I couldn’t find a lot to criticize about the film necessarily, but I have to recognize that this film is so idiosyncratic that I’m not sure wide audiences would enjoy it. I didn’t love it but I did enjoy it pretty well. It was a good way to spend an afternoon and it had some things that surprised me. If you like Simon Pegg as much as I do then go ahead and give it a watch.
Cory is an author and a writer for video games. He likes to yell at bad horror movies and write reviews about good ones. He is also attending film school at the University of Texas to hopefully make good movies one day. He is also clearly bad at picking just one hobby when there are so many fun things to do. Ask him about his cat if you’re having a bad day, or if you like cat pictures.
As a Brit, I’m sure I’ll find a lot of the humour funny. I think Simon Pegg is one of those comedians who you can love some of the time, which makes him totally unlike most others! I think he’s best when poking fun at established tropes, so I have hopes for this.
And yes, I often found myself the only person in a US theatre laughing at something. My actor friend who I’d gone to see knew exactly where I was sitting… 🙂