Eye For Film >> Movies >> Le Fear (2010) Film Review
Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode
Making a low budget film about making a low budget film is not a new idea but it remains, in potentia, a good one. If you don't have the money to do much with sets, costumes, effects or big name actors, why not run with that using a story that fits? Most of Le Fear is shot on an undressed sound stage with only rudimentary props. The low budget impacts hardest on lighting, which weakens some of the outdoor shots, but in the studio this too is comfortably excused by the fact the film-within-a-film is cheesy horror. This frees up the filmmakers from the usual concerns and lets them concentrate on story and character.
Opening with its producer protagonist listening to a song about Woody Allen gives us a hint about his ambitions and about the film's. Unfortunately, whilst the joke works well enough in relation to the character, it sets the bar very high for debut writer/director Jason Croot. Needless to say, Le Fear doesn't achieve that level of dialogue or story. It's ambitiously designed - writing for an ensemble cast with characters built up through a series of vignettes is always challenging - and though it has its moments it needs a stronger narrative to hold it all together. The pace is slow and there's too little tension to keep audiences gripped.
Much of this is down to the central character. Competently played by Kyri Saphiris, producer Carlos has his smooth and sleazy schtick down to a tee, whether he's persuading a naive investor to part with his money or persuading his cast and crew that they can carry on despite the loss of equipment and co-stars. The problem is that, whilst this works from a comedy perspective, it means we never really feel Carlos has anything to lose when things go wrong. Most of the other characters, whilst they may be frustrated, are similarly uncommitted and therefore hard to root for. Only sometime glamour model Debbie D (Lucinda Rhodes-Flaherty), seems vulnerable (balancing this well with an extortionist streak). Spencer Austin works well as pompous lead actor Leon but doesn't have much to work with. Ilona Saic's flirtatious make-up artist is simply too lightweight for her place in the narrative.
Where Le Fear does work well is in its understanding of what life in the low-budget side of the industry can be like. Those familiar with this environment will find pleasing moments of wry humour scattered throughout. Other brief scenes will entertain a wider audience. The imported werewolf who doesn't speak English is a charmer.
When one considers that Le Fear was made in three days on a mere £1,900, it's astounding. It may be flawed, but for the most part it looks professional, and the sound design, usually a big problem for low budget films, works perfectly well. I've seen many, many worse films that cost over a hundred times as much. This is, of course, no consolation for viewers who don't find it hits the spot, but it suggests that Croot has potential. It's clear that a lot of care has gone into this film and one can only hope that, together with increased resources and experience, that might generate something impressive.Reviewed on: 27 Jun 2011