Fear Clinic (2014) Review
**WARNING: Contains Spoilers**
Seeking to combat your worst fears? Then fret no more, as acclaimed Doctor Andover’s fear chamber is ready for you…
When a group of survivors who endured a brutal shooting attack are left traumatized, they are miraculously cured after a visit to the Fear Clinic run by the renowned doctor Andover (played by the legend of Nightmares himself, Robert Englund). A year later, all is no longer well; their individual phobias begin to manifest themselves once again and they also begin to develop more frightening hallucinations that keep them awake at night! Sara (Fiona Dourif) naturally unnerved, pays Doctor Andover a visit to relay her concerns, determined to enter the fear chamber once again to lay her demons to rest once and for all. Following the unfortunate death of survivor Paige (Bonnie Morgan) Andover is reluctant, what is he afraid of? and what is creeping in the dark corners of his invention? Will he be able to save his patients before its too late and fear itself literally consumes them?
Based on the 2009 FEARnet. web series, Robert Green Hall’s Fear Clinic is an exercise in ultimate terror. Englund reprises his role as the fearless Doctor, however horror stalwarts Kane Hodder and Danielle Harris who starred in the webisodes are notably absent. Instead we have Fiona Dourif (daughter of Brad Dourif of Chucky fame) who’s making a distinct name for herself within the genre as a result of her powerhouse performances. Impressed by her roles in long-awaited Child’s Play sequel, Curse of Chucky (2013) and Chelsey Burdon’s short shocker She (2014), Dourif steals the show in Fear Clinic, portraying a strong, uncompromising, edgy female heroine who’s prepared to go to any lengths to protect her fellow survivors. Sara is an inspiring character. She is beyond determined to conquer her fear and begin to live her life again. She will not allow the horrific shooting incident dictate who she is, allowing the audience to be completely on her side as she continually persuades Andover to let go of any reservations he has and to act in his patients best interests.
Fear Clinic marks the début acting role for Slipknot and Stone Sour front man Corey Taylor as Bauer, one of the security and maintenance workers at the clinic. Taylor relishes in his performance and its clear that he’s having so much fun acting in his favourite genre alongside the iconic Englund. Bauer provides light relief in an otherwise dark film, showcasing Taylor’s ability at comedy, he plays him as endearingly obnoxious. A few cheeky references to Slipknot are thrown in for good measure. Bauer can’t resist placing a mask on his face to sneak up behind and scare his colleague Gage (Kevin Gage), a nod to his mask-wearing persona in the band. In a flashback sequence a child character also donnes a Slipknot t-shirt and Taylor’s band Stone Sour provide the one and only soundtrack number in the entire film titled The Dark, an energetic and fierce piece of hard rock. A sample of the track is heard during one of Taylor’s funniest as well as indulgent scenes and is played in full during the end credits. With several successful albums under his belt, most recently Slipknot’s phenomenal 5. The Gray Chapter, Taylor is a welcome addition to the cast and hopefully he’ll have a good future ahead of him as a genre actor as well as being a talented musician.
Visually, Fear Clinic is an eyeful of creative and strange imagery, a chance for Robert Green Hall to show off his talents. Hall comes from a make-up artist background, previously having worked in visual effects on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and a number of horror movies. He brings in something unique with the imagery on offer in this feature while also providing a throwback to the twisted visuals present in the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, allowing Englund to feel right at home in his horror comforts. The cinematography is stunning and makes the most of the on-screen effects. When Andover is forced through the ambiguous door that has been created through his fear chamber he is bound into a snowy scene where he comes across a corpse-like Paige. There’s a chilling aesthetic on show, capturing the weird yet serene moment. Megan’s (Cleopatra Coleman) arachnophobia sequence is grizzly and heightens a sense of discomfort as she experiences something nasty crawling away inside of her, enough to make us squirm! The ending is a complete spectacle in effects which will leave the audience in amazement, its a Robert Englund transformation like never before!
Fear Clinic is a slow-burning lesson in horror. It has some really strong set pieces and is incredibly well-acted with some interesting ideas all round. It has a couple of weak moments, for example the out of place sex scene between Caylee (Angelina Armani) and Dylan (Brandon Breemer); it doesn’t help that these two are probably the most unlike-able characters in the movie with their incessant angst and moodiness. Thomas Dekker is outstanding as Blake, a victim of the tragedy who bared a worse brunt than the other survivors. Wheelchair-bound, brain-damaged and mollycoddled by his over-bearing mother, Blake has more to overcome than the others and proves to be Andover’s most challenging patient. He must come to terms with his inner demons. Along with Sara’s help and guidance, progress is made but it all leads to a startling revelation that will change the dynamics drastically.
Robert Green Hall has created something triumphant with Fear Clinic, it seeps with potential for future ideas, maybe another possible series that deals with new characters and all kinds of different phobias? or even a sequel despite the conveniently tied-up if not rushed ending that leaves one or two questions unanswered. Defying expectations, the dream team (or should I say nightmare team?!) of Hall, Englund, Dourif and Taylor is a must-see if you love psychological horror movies that tap into the sub-concious.
Following its World Premiere at ScreamFest 2014, Fear Clinic is available to own on DVD in the US & UK!
Listen to/ Watch the Fear Clinic themed music video for Stone Sour’s The Dark:
Hayley Alice Roberts