The prologue of Know Fear, co-written by Adam Ambrosio, is a confusing mess. It’s a baffling thing to follow, not because the audience has no frame of reference to who these characters are or what they are doing. No, it is because co-writer and director Jamison M. LoCascio fails to establish where these people are in relation to each other. It is one quick edit and extreme close-up after another, assaulting audiences with nonsensical images that immediately puts them off the film. This means the first two minutes create an uphill battle the rest of the film must fight. Does it win out, or is the prologue a harbinger of awfulness lying ahead?
Donald (David Alan Basche) and Wendy (Amy Carlson) are moving into a new house for a fresh start after his brother died. The home is closer (it is implied to be at least) to their niece, Jami (Mallory Bechtel), and nephew, Charlie (Jack DiFalco), so the married couple can be around for them during their time of grief. Of course, this is the house from the prologue, and it is not long into unpacking that Wendy discovers a withered, leather-bound book.
Hosting a YouTube supernatural show, Jami reads from the book… always a bad idea. This unleashes a demonic entity who wants to kill everyone in the house, including Wendy’s TA Nancy (Meeya Davis). In her studies, Jami knows what some of the symbols in the book mean and concocts a plan to find the demon’s name, which, when said out loud, will banish the monster back from whence it came.
“…unleashes a demonic entity who wants to kill everyone in the house…”
Despite the prologue giving audiences a bitter taste in their mouths from the jump, Know Fear winds up working overall. While the story holds few, if any, surprises, the characters are all well-drawn. Wendy’s previous battles with mental health are alluded to but never explicitly spelled out. This shows the faith the filmmakers have in audiences to piece things together while adding to the tension and dread. A superb early scene sees Donald give Charlie his dad’s old leather jacket. In that brief exchange, Donald’s love for his extended family and Charlie’s sadness over his loss yet happiness over such a souvenir of his father’s are truly felt and understood.
When Nancy and Charlie meet, the sparks are instant without ever spilling over into saccharine territory. The writers’ devotion to making each person as realistic as possible pays off, as anyone watching wants everybody to escape unscathed. LoCascio also brings the scares, as a sequence wherein the demon drags Jami and Charlie into separate rooms will leave viewers on the edge of their seats. It’s a creepy, thrilling affair with a lot of style.
But really, it is the entire cast that does the heavy lifting. Each role is ideally suited to the actor portraying them, and they mine a great deal of depth out of their respective parts. Nancy discovers a horrible secret about the demon, and her shock and dismay are palpable. Carlson’s confusion over how her character winds up in certain rooms is authentic and makes one sympathize with her instantly. Everyone delivers in a big way so that even when the narrative isn’t as enthralling as it should be, the characters keep the audience riveted and engaged throughout.
Know Fear starts off rough with a confusing prologue, and the plot is fairly predictable, though the ending lands perfectly. But the characters are all three-dimensional and likable, the direction keeps the atmosphere and tension high, and the cast shines in every scene. While flawed, horror fans will find a lot to appreciate here.
"…a creepy, thrilling affair..."