Wednesday, December 1, 2010


The Academy Entertainment tradition of late-wave Canadian noir continues in this middle-of-the-road “Home Alone”-esque thriller, starring Shelley Hack (Charlie’s Angels) as a blind woman trapped in an Inn with a trio of armored car thieves. While the premise holds a ton of promise, the author of “Blind Fear” does not seem to understand that it takes more than the sheer goodness of a concept in order for a movie to succeed. The ending is kind of cool, and some of the action beats soundly, but the bulk of the movie is overpoweringly dull filler. After watching Hack stumble around in the dark and knock shit over for a collective forty-five minutes, what eventual good there is doesn’t even matter. You ever bang some really hot chick and she doesn’t think she really has to move or anything simply because she's blessing you by letting you even touch her? Well, “Blind Fear” functions in much the same way. It relies on having a good concept, but never really does anything special with it.

Hack plays Erika Breen, the blind switch board operator of a rustic hotel that’s just been bought out, leaving her displaced and without a job. On the eve of the purchase, Erika finds herself stranded at the Inn when her cousin calls to tell her that he won’t be able to pick her up until the next afternoon. Boozy German ground’s keeper Lasky (Jan Rubes) refuses to leave her alone in the old, forsaken building and insists on keeping her company. Shortly after Lasky orders a pizza, kill-crazy stick-up man Ed and his accomplices crash the party. Erika keeps out of sight, and the invaders, who’ve just knocked over an armored car, decide to hole up the hotel while awaiting their mysterious benefactor, Heinneman (Géza Kovács). So, the pizza finally arrives, and in a plot detail that’s so stupid it might be genius, Ed deduces there must be someone else in the Hotel because half of the pizza does not have any anchovies. After all, “not everyone likes anchovies.” A storm rolls in, and the band of back biting thieves grow more paranoid toward one another during their search for Erika, who uses her familiarity with the property along with her heightened senses to depose of the criminals. The second half of the film also finally manages to evoke some sort of atmosphere, as the first portion is completely bereft of vibe. Eventually, the bad guys are done away with, and we’re treated to a nice plot twist that answers some questions while leaving a few others open.

There are some competent and creative people on board this production, but there are other elements that completely sabotage anything that might remotely resemble quality. The film is primarily confined to the hotel, and the sets look good, but then composer Michael Melvoin drags us back to B-grade reality with a crushingly bad synth score. I cannot begin to list the multitude of B-films from this period that would have come across more impressively if they had either used a more organic score, or no music at all.

There are some decent performances here in spite of the fact that the cast are fed a mediocre script. In particular, the charismatic Kim Coates shines like a proto-Elijah Wood in the role of Ed. Hack, too, is convincing as the bumbling blind Breen. Perhaps the best thing about the movie, though, is the creative use of lighting. However, the fact that Academy recorded this in EP mode reduces what is actually ambient, nuanced light to mere dimness. All of this is compounded by some awkwardly abrupt edits toward the film's last quarter.

And of course, I cannot end this review without touching upon the box. Another great hack job by the artistically impaired marketing goofs at Academy. First off, none of the people on the cover are actually in this movie. The chick on the box is actually way finer than Shelley Hack and about ten years younger to boot. Also, I love that she is wearing tinted glasses, because all blind people wear that shit while tapping the ground with their white cane. And second, the tag line – not exactly accurate: “She’s blind. She’s Beautiful. She thinks she’s alone.” Alright, yeah, she’s blind. I’ll even let you have beautiful. But at no point does she ever think she’s alone. That’s just bullshit. Seriously, it says a lot when the dude who comes up with your taglines hasn’t seen the movie.

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