31 Days of Halloween — Day 18: Fear, Inc. (2016) — by Dr. Shock

31 Days of Halloween - Fear, Inc. 2016

Editor’s note: Dave “Dr. Shock” Becker is a host on Horror Movie Podcast, Universal Monsters Cast and Land of the Creeps horror podcasts. He is also the mastermind behind DVDInfatuation.com, a movie review blog where he is watching and posting one review every day until he reaches at least 2,500 movie reviews. Follow Doc on Twitter: @DVDinfatuation.

Directed by Vincent Masciale, Fear, Inc. is an entertaining motion picture with a likable cast of characters and some nifty nods to the classic splatter films of yore. But with its ever-twisting story and preference for laughs over chills, there’s a good chance horror aficionados will walk away from this one disappointed.

Joe (Lucas Neff), an unemployed slacker who spends his days hanging out at the beautiful L.A. mansion owned by his Aussie girlfriend Lindsey (Caitlin Stasey), is a big-time fan of horror movies, and with the Halloween season in full swing he visits a number of haunted attractions in the hopes of finding one that will scare the living hell out of him. Unfortunately, they all fall short of his expectations. Then, one night, he’s handed a card by a random stranger (played by Patrick Renna) advertising a company called “Fear, Inc.,” which guarantees its customers the most terrifying experience of their lives.

Joe’s best friend Ben (Chris Marquette), who recently arrived in town with his wife Ashleigh (Stephanie Drake), says that Fear, Inc. is bad news; rumor has it some of those who’ve called the service have never been heard from again. Intrigued by Ben’s warnings, Joe decides to give Fear, Inc. a try. But instead of a fun-filled evening of frights, Joe, Ben and the ladies are forced to play a deadly game of cat and mouse that could ultimately cost them their lives.

The entire cast of Fear, Inc. is strong (especially Chris Marquette, who was also good in both Infestation and Night of the Living Deb), but what makes it so much damn fun is Lucas Neff’s spirited turn as the naïve but hopeful Joe, a guy whose unbridled enthusiasm for all things horror lands him and his friends in some pretty hot water (to get the most out of his Fear, Inc. experience, Joe purposefully leaves a door unlocked so that a masked killer can walk right in; and he’s as giddy as a schoolboy when his neighbor Bill, played by Richard Riehle, is seemingly stabbed to death in the middle of the street, a murder that Joe believes was staged by the good people at Fear, Inc. Or was it?)

In addition, director Masciale and screenwriter Luke Barnett pay tribute to the horror movies of the ‘80s and ‘90s throughout Fear, Inc. Along with sequences that hearken back to both Friday the 13th and Scream, the story owes quite a bit to David Fincher’s The Game, and at one point Ben, Joe and their significant others discuss their favorite horror film kill scenes (Ashleigh chooses Johnny Depp’s blood-soaked demise in 1984’s A Nightmare on Elm Street, while Ben is partial to the shower death in the original Final Destination).

Yet while moments such as these are sure to bring a smile to the face of any true genre fan, Fear, Inc. features one too many plot twists for its own good (I was pleasantly surprised by the first, but could figure some of the others out well before their big reveals), leaving Joe (and the rest of us) to wonder if what he’s seeing is real, or part of an elaborate hoax. And while the movie was genuinely funny at times, it wasn’t as frightening as it should have been. In fact, the film gets less scary with each successive scene (though the finale does, admittedly, pack a wallop).

Still, despite its weaknesses, I had fun watching Fear, Inc., and if you ever find yourself in the mood for a horror / comedy that’s light on the horror, I recommend giving this one a whirl.

—Dr. Shock

Dr. Shock’s links:
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3 thoughts on “31 Days of Halloween — Day 18: Fear, Inc. (2016) — by Dr. Shock


    Day 18 – Seed of Chucky

    It may have taken original Child’s Play writer, Don Mancini, five films, but he finally got to direct a Chucky film with 2004’s Seed of Chucky! And…it’s the worst one out of the bunch. It’s a shame too because Seed is the final proper wide release the Child’s Play/Chucky film has had thus far. Every time I’ve watched the film, dating back to when I originally bought the DVD when it first came out, I’ve defended it as something that was stupid, yet fun. With this latest watch, I can’t even claim that any more. This is the sort of entry in a series that can easily kill a franchise. So what went wrong?

    At the core of Seed’s problem, they took what worked in Bride of Chucky, the wackiness, and decided to make an entire film with just that wackiness. Although there was a lot of comedy and wacky antics in Bride, there was still a horror based plot to it, even if barely any effort was put into it. The whole meta sort of plot of Tiffany trying get close to her idol, Jennifer Tilly, in order to transfer her soul into Tilly’s body is frankly a silly plot. You can clearly tell that the script was meant to have a lot of fun, but the fun value isn’t there when they went so far beyond the acceptable levels of craziness. At some point, a wacky movie plot starts to feel less like an actual movie plot and more like some bad fan fiction.

    Although I’m not a member of the LGBTQ community, but I have to wonder how they feel about this depiction of a killer doll without any genitalia, causing Glen/Glenda to be unsure of its own gender. This sub-plot also plays into the whole idea that Seed of Chucky goes too far with its wackiness. It took what was initially just a fun throwaway joke of whether or not Chucky is anatomically correct in his doll form and decided to actually base a large portion of a film examining what it would be like for a living doll if they are not anatomically correct. I do somewhat like the idea of Chucky’s child being split, with one half of the personality being a homicidal doll like dear old dad while the other is a pacifist, but I’m left wondering if this is a rather insensitive plot for transgendered people? Then again, it’s the fifth movie of a killer doll series, should the viewer even be taken anything done or said in these movies to heart or expecting to find it representing something morally?

    Despite being made six years after Bride of Chucky, Seed’s budget is only half that of Bride. Twelve million dollars sounds like a lot for some small horror film, but considering the amount of effects done in the film, it’s very clearly a cheaply made movie. The puppetry is well done though. Like with Bride, the puppets are able to do a lot and the filmmakers aren’t forced to be over reliant on CGI just yet with Chuck’s movements. Likewise, since they can do so much with puppets, there’s even less examples of a child needing to play the role of Chucky in some carefully shot sequences. Unfortunately, the rest of the effects are pretty awful. When there is CGI, which is for nearly every kill, the CGI is obvious and it greatly takes the fun away from the kills. Nothing kills my interest in a death scene more than when obvious CGI, that doesn’t look as if it’s taking place in the same area as the live action portion, is there when a practical effect would have been used just a few years earlier. Even more disappointing is the blood. Blood should be the cheapest and best looking effect a horror movie has since you can make gallons of it for pennies, but all of the blood in this movie has a bit of pinkish hue to it and far too thin. How is it that you can’t even get blood to look good?
    If there’s one part of the film that I am a big fan of, it’s that after five films, Chucky finally embraces being a soul trapped in a doll’s body, opting not to have his soul transferred into a body when given the chance. This has been a slow progression throughout the series with Chucky starting to have more and more fun as a doll with “Side missions” rather than just focusing on the main objective of getting his soul back into the body of Andy Barclay. Chucky gives a great speech with a line in it below:

    “As a doll, I’m fucking infamous! I’m one of the most notorious slashers in history! And I don’t wanna give that up. I am Chucky, the killer doll! And I dig it!”

    It’s a great moment about accepting who you are as a person (Or a doll), faults and all, and fully embracing it. Ironically, that’s what the wacky Seed of Chucky is all about as all three dolls deal with that same issue. For Chucky, it’s embracing remaining a doll. For Tiffany, it’s realizing that for as much as she loves Chucky, she cares more about becoming human again. As for Glen/Glenda, it’s the internal struggle of trying to out and what gender this doll offspring wants to be. The film is oddly…inspirational in terms of accepting who you are as a person?

    Overall, I love Chucky. Child’s Play 2 and 3 were some of the first horror movies I’ve ever watched and he still holds a special place in my heart, but Seed of Chucky is not a good movie at all. Brad Dourif’s antics as Chucky has always been one of the main highlights of the series, but this film took the zany antics and just would not stop doing them. With a B-plot involving Jennifer Tilly and Redman being uninteresting and poor CGI ruining all of the death scenes, there’s very little value at all in this movie. With this latest watch, I’d have to rank Seed of Chucky as being the worst of the Child’s Play/Chucky series.

    Rating: 3/10

  2. Thanks Dave for the review of Fear Inc. I remember watching it knowing nothing about the movie but rather enjoying it very much. In fact, I elieve it made my top 10 list of 2016 (I will have to check the comments section from Dec/January to confirm this). Yes, it had its flaws. There was some silly overacting, it had too many twists and turns, and I was not thrilled with the ending, but I can’t help but smile when I think of the movie. I particularily enjoyed the brief appearances by Richard Riehl, and while this was not an ultra “serious”, I always wanted to know what would happen next. While watching, I felt it had a feel of Scream and Saw, but references and inferences to other staples of the genre were obvious. Was it a perfect movie? Far from it, especially for those who want a more “serious” horror, but I enjoyed it greatly and is a high priority rental in my opinion.

  3. Day 18: Curse of Chucky (2013)

    Curse of Chucky reinvents the Child’s Play franchise. Don Mancini, the creator of Chucky, writer of all the Child’s play films, and the writer/director of this film shows that he is not out of ideas. The ever versatile Chucky doll is at it again in this gothic stylized film. He is a slasher villain who is out for revenge and the kills are brutally fresh. This film takes place chronologically sometime after Seed of Chucky and fans of the franchise get some new backstory. Fiona Dourif gives a great performance along side her father Brad Dourif (voice of Chucky) who we get to see on the screen again as Charles Lee Ray. 7.5/10

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