British humor and horror are two very, very different beasts from their American counterparts. Stemming from different culture norms, decades of history, and politics, the separation is clear cut and sometimes things get lost in translation. That doesn’t, however, mean that some of them can’t be damn funny and scary. Typically, anything Simon Pegg is in.
Let’s take a look at A Fantastic Fear of Everything.
This is may not be one of Simon Pegg’s better known films, and it never got an American release, but A Fantastic Fear of Everything is quite good. It follows paranoid author Jack as he tries to get to an important editor’s meeting to get his work on TV, and insanity follows, and not all of it from Jack’s own insane delusions and assumptions…some of which actually end up coming true.
This type of weird and over-the-top humor works well for Pegg, who plays Jack’s intense and overwhelming paranoia to an excellent degree and his struggles to cope and deal with everyday life and interactions are both tragic and hysterical. Since this film is more of a character study than it is a complex narrative, there are only a few more actors to note, but do they match Pegg’s commitment. Alan Drake as Tony Perkins is probably the second best casting choice of the film (no spoilers here) followed by Amara Karan as Sangeet, Pegg’s fellow kidnapping victim (I lied, some spoilers). Claire Higgins and Paul Freeman are excellent as Jack’s agent and valued resource/therapist are both a ton of fun to watch as they try to calm the paranoid author down.
The pacing is a bit off, as the beginning is actually rather slow. Once the crazy train is on its way, there’s no problem with pacing but until then it feels like a bit of a struggle to get to the good parts. This is obviously done to emulate the slow ascent into mania, just like how Jack slowly started building himself up in the intense delusions and paranoid state we find him in when the film begins. Still, I think it would have been better with a bit more of a push in the beginning and some parts in the middle.
The cinematography is actually really well done. Mixing reality with fiction seamlessly with excellent camera work, great work with light and color palette and of course, the stop-motion animated story towards the end involving hedgehogs and their adorable but violent conflicts. I won’t lie and say that it doesn’t come out of nowhere, like most of the film’s plot, but it is so charming you soon stop asking why it exists and just go with it. They certainly decided to take a lot of chances with the film, which for me all totally pay off.
What I think I truly like about the film is that it takes itself seriously enough to pride itself in its craft but still light enough that it never tries to tone down the insanity. It’s not a story you can fight against, you have to let it take you to all the strange nooks and crannies to really appreciate it. In the end, this movie knows exactly how humans, when alone, start to think that there’s a murderer around every corner. Jack is a ridiculous character, but not an unfamiliar one.
A Fantastic Fear of Everything is one of the best horror-comedies I have seen in a long time. It manages to capture a level of heart-warming absurdity that eludes some of the best written and well-meaning of stories and films. If you need a weird little movie that is just as likely to make you laugh as it is to stare at the screen in dumbfounded astonishment, this is your best bet. One of those rare treasures on Netflix that people consistently overlook because it’s not Shaun of the Dead.
– Great, funny story.
– Great cinematography.
– Good acting.
– Begins very slowly.
– Pacing is a bit off.