Horror Anthology ‘Phobias’ Wastes its Interesting Premise

Sommerleigh Pollonais, Horror Head Writer

Warning: Mild spoilers ahead

Plot: Five dangerous patients suffering from extreme phobias at a government testing facility are put to the ultimate test under the supervision of a crazed doctor as part of his quest to weaponise fear.

Review: A solid premise for a horror movie, especially one structured like an anthology, phobias are something everyone has (you’re lying to yourself if you think you don’t). From common phobias like claustrophobia (fear of small/enclosed spaces) to lesser known ones like autophobia (fear of being alone), this movie chooses a juicy topic to be at its core. Sadly, a premise is basically an idea, and without the proper execution of that idea all you’re left with is a forgettable viewing experience. Which is what we get from this one.

How did you know I have a fear of talking on the phone? Wait. What am I doing?!

The thread that connects these stories is carried by Johnny (Leonardo Nam, who most of you may remember as the scientist in the Westworld TV series who forms an unhealthy attachment to Thandie Newton’s Maeve) a programmer with a simple life who spends his lonely days taking care of his ailing father. After being beaten up by some racist thugs he’s contacted by “someone” online who says they will protect him and take care of his problems. All he has to do is ask. That person goes on to remotely destroy his problems (literally). But what seems like a dream come true quickly turns nightmarish when the person reveals themselves to be an entity made of pure electricity. And after deeming Johnny’s father as one of his “problems” Johnny develops Robophobia (exactly what you think it is) and ends up seeking treatment for it. Turns out the cure is worse than the disease.

Like I said before it’s a solid premise, and as the story continues we meet other characters with phobias of their own. I’ll give this movie another tick in the win column because they pick phobias I honestly knew nothing about. We have one person suffering from vehophobia (fear of driving) another with ephebiphobia (fear of young people) another with hoplophobia (fear of guns) and none other than singer turned actor Macy Gray herself as a woman with possibly the goriest phobia of them all, atelophobia (fear of imperfections) which leads her to perform plastic surgery on herself, using the body parts of her victims. All interesting stuff, but let me put this to you—How many of you knew what these phobias were before I told you? I’m guessing not that many, and therein lies just one of this movie’s issues.

If we all just stick together I think we can surv…RED QUEEN: YOU’RE ALL GOING TO DIE DOWN HERE! EDITOR JULES: Red Queen?! It’s been forever. How you doing?

The phobias are poorly explained in each of these anthology stories (with maybe the exception of hoplophobia) and the last thing you want your audience doing is reaching for their phones to look stuff up when they should be immersed in the story. Another negative is the anthology storytelling style isn’t well executed. The best anthologies are stories that link together seamlessly with their main plot, and that doesn’t happen here. We get little to no backstory on the characters or the Whys and Whats of these tales, and so we’re left bored with the rest of it. And the main story thread is also so underdeveloped you never really care about any of these people or the outcomes of facing their fears.

The only light in this dark and dreary tunnel is the interest that you might manage to dredge up for the phobias on display. And I still wouldn’t mind watching a movie that tackles stuff like this in the future. I just hope trypophobia (aversion to the sight of irregular patterns or clusters of small holes or bumps) isn’t one of them. That’s my kryptonite. Well, that and flying roaches. Eeew!

Sommer’s Score: 4 out of 10

For more horror anthologies you can check out my review of Scare Package here and my review of Clive Barker’s Books of Blood here.

2755F829-2EEC-4A68-B6F7-F963F48C9D92 Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.

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