Fear Itself Image

Fear Itself

By Bobby LePire | February 28, 2024

Alvin G. Morris makes his feature-length directorial debut with Fear Itself. The horror film was written by James Glen Tucker, and this also marks his first full-length movie. The story uses the pandemic as a launching point, and with a sparse cast and a single location, one might worry this is another COVID-19 flick. Luckily, for all involved, it is not.

Joe (James Glen Tucker) has debilitating agoraphobia after two near-fatal attacks. In fact, he barely leaves his room in the house he shares with his roommates. During a dinner with friends, he emerges but is twitchy and on edge. This opening is awkward at best and clumsy at worst. Joe comes across as less afraid of the outside and more as a person who hates people. That is hardly the intention, but by cloistering the character in his room and not focusing on the outside much, his issues don’t match what viewers are told is wrong with Joe. It doesn’t help that Tucker’s affectations and mannerisms for Joe initially come across as cartoony.

However, once the story’s main thrust begins, these issues fade away, and Fear Itself becomes quite engrossing and tension-filled. See, a second deadly virus ravages its way across the world. Joe’s roomies flee an isolated family cabin next to a big lake where they can fish for food. Joe cannot walk out of the house without feeling like he’s going to explode, so he elects to stay behind. Unfortunately, all the stores are closed, and the gig workers who deliver via Instacart (and the like) are at home taking care of themselves and theirs. This means supplies are extremely limited for Joe and getting more is nigh but impossible. Things get even more thorny when a man winds up on the lawn, beaten and bleeding profusely. Can Joe overcome his deep-rooted issues to help an innocent soul, or is the threat of the new pandemic and the outside world at large too much to bear?

“…supplies are extremely limited for Joe and getting more is nigh but impossible.”

Tucker’s performance is an interesting beast. The more time spent with Joe, the more the actor does not rely on the fidgety mannerisms that dominate much of the cinematic landscape’s portrayal of neurodivergence and/or mental health. While it does start that way (to be fair, Joe has kept the extent of his problems a secret to his roommates and, therefore, to the audience at first), once Joe is alone in the house, a more human side comes through. Caring for Joe and buying Tucker’s portrayal is crucial to the success of Fear Itself.

Morris makes excellent use of the house and its lawn. Serving as director of photography as well, Morris makes excellent use of shadow. If Joe does not know what’s around the corner, neither does anyone watching. This allows for some truly ominous moments to take hold in this Houston, TX suburb, such as witnessing Joe suit up in gloves, a mask, and all to try to help the dying person on his lawn. Can he actually make it through the door? Is the protective gear he’s donning enough to allow Joe to do the right thing? These questions, among several other weighty themes, are at the heart of the picture and provide compelling food for thought.

Fear Itself starts a little too unrealistic to buy instantly. But once the plot finds its groove, an entertainingly eerie ride is in store. The cinematography is strong, capturing the lead’s uncertainty very visually. Tucker brings the anxiousness and heart of Joe to life in a way that feels authentic, despite the opening moments.

For more information, visit the official Fear Itself site.

Fear Itself (2024)

Directed: Alvin G. Morris

Written: James Glen Tucker

Starring: James Glen Tucker, etc.

Movie score: 8/10

Fear Itself Image

"…an entertainingly eerie ride..."

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