FEAR CLINIC *** USA 2014 Dir: Robert Hall. 91 mins
Following his two ultra-violent, nihilistic contemporary slasher flicks (LAID TO REST and CHROMESKULL), FX man turned filmmaker Robert Hall turns to mindfuck territory with FEAR CLINIC, centering around Robert Englund’s unique, chambered clinic that offers “total immersive therapy” (literally) for folks to face a range of fears. One year after her therapy stint to get over a diner massacre, Fiona Dourif suffers traumatic flashbacks to the event.
She returns to Englund’s institute, which now sits in a dishevelled state along with its trail-blazing founder. Despite there being no previous record of “fear after-shocks” in the wake of therapy, it now appears that Englund’s previous patients are being revisited by their fears. Englund has one of his best recent roles as the sympathetic, well intentioned slightly-mad doctor in a movie that opts for cerebral slow-burn for an hour or so, though Hall ultimately revels in twisted Cronenbergian tendril-enhanced, flesh-ripping body horror, turning Englund into a unique “fear monster” at the climax. Somehow, it never seems to add up to the sum of its parts, and it feels like a few rewrites from being a really satisfactory movie, but the surrealistic FX (echoing the 80’s heyday of such things) and Englund’s presence go some way to make up for the nagging feeling that it could have been even better. Be warned: Englund has a nude scene.
Review by Steven West