Know Fear


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Know Fear
"LoCascio does an impressive job of shooting in cramped spaces and squeezing dramatic potential out of what must have been a difficult location shoot."

When her family takes possession of a new house, something takes possession of Wendy (Amy Carlson). Maybe she shouldn't have gone poking through the previous residents' things and peering at their strange books. It's an unusual, slow process; she seems less and less herself, which will lead even horror viewers familiar with such processes to wonder. Her husband Donald (David Alan Basche), however, quickly becomes convinced of what's happening, and delves into the same book without a moment's hesitation. in search of a remedy.

We know from the outset that things could go very badly wrong here because we've been treated, in the prologue, to a glimpse of what happened to the former owners. Wendy and Donald also happens to have a relative - niece Jami (Mallory Bechtel) - who hosts an online show about the supernatural. It's nice not to have to go through the usual tedious gaslighting preamble but the enthusiasm with which our heroes take up their newly acquired book and start using it shows a remarkable lack of caution. "It's Latin and I don't speak Latin but I can read it!" cries Donald, and horror fans will feel relieved that at least it's not Ancient Sumerian.

Getting straight to the ritual itself poses another problem: the film really doesn't have enough ideas to fill out even its brief 77 minute running time. Its hook is the notion that at least three people need to participate in the ritual: one will see the demon, one will hear it and one will be able to speak to it. Beyond that, it relies on mistakes, mysterious failures, repetition and general character stupidity in order to keep the story going. Seeing these people getting overwhelmed doesn't mean that the average viewer will feel vulnerable too.

We never get a very strong sense of who these people are or why they are all risking their lives for Wendy (one of them isn't even a relative, but her teaching assistant, who just happens to be in the house when the ritual starts and agrees to go along with it in the same lighthearted way one might agree to watch a soap opera together or play a game of Scrabble). This makes it difficult to care much about what happens to them. Most of the actors can express fear or pain adequately but we don't see much evidence of them having empathy for one another.

There are some points worth praising here. The design of the demon itself is simple but effective and director Jamison M LoCascio has the sense to keep it mostly out of sight. Most of the damage done is implied rather than shown directly, which with a budget this low is usually the smart choice. LoCascio does an impressive job of shooting in cramped spaces and squeezing dramatic potential out of what must have been a difficult location shoot. There is, however, nothing that stands out enough to make up for the fact that we've basically seen all this before. Whilst the team have clearly worked hard to deliver on popular genre tropes, it's less clear why they have done so when they don't seem to have anything to say.

Reviewed on: 12 Mar 2021
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Know Fear packshot
A man persuades his family members to help him perform an ancient ritual with the aim of freeing his wife from demonic possession.

Director: Jamison M LoCascio

Writer: Adam Ambrosio, Jamison M LoCascio

Starring: Amy Carlson, Mallory Bechtel, David Alan Basche, Meeya Davis, Jack DiFalco, Chase Bolnick

Year: 2021

Runtime: 77 minutes

Country: US


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