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Wednesday, May 27, 2020

FEAR PHARM -- Movie Review by Porfle

"We're just a fun family corn maze," Hershel (John Littlefield, SLIPSTREAM) tells the four dubious teens who have just been promised that they'll win a substantial cash prize if they make it through said corn maze in less than two hours in the horror-thriller FEAR PHARM (2019).

Of course, he leaves out the part where he's a psychotic killer and so are his hulking Leatherface-clone sons and freaky blonde psycho-bitch daughter Gemma (Aimee Stolte), who will do their best to hunt down, terrorize, and finally kill all four of them for reasons that are the stuff of creepy local urban legend.

The four teens, all aspiring actors looking for that first big role, are the usual stuff of this kind of flick, including happy horndogger Brandon (Houston Stevenson), his cute blonde girlfriend Wendy (Emily Sweet), conceited but likable jerk Rustin (Chris Leary), and Rustin's more sensible sister Melanie (Tiana Tuttle).

What's nice is that they're a pleasant enough bunch and we don't start rooting for them all to die horribly from the moment they open their mouths.  This helps give the story genuine tension rather than simply being an excuse to rack up a body count.

It's also nice that the cast is pretty excellent as is the film's sharp-looking visual sense, including an abundance of sweeping drone-camera shots which prove that somewhere there actually is an honest-to-goodness corn maze stretching as far as the eye can see which serves as a stunning found location for director Dante Yore to do his stuff.

What he in fact does after all the careful build-up in the film's first act is to put us through a consistently suspenseful ordeal along with those four hapless teens who discover that not only is the corn maze pretty darn difficult to navigate, but it's also filled with (a) costumed actors portraying scary monsters, and (b) Hershel's bloodthirsty offspring who actually are scary monsters.

The result is a film with plenty of action, scares, and eventually a good amount of gore, especially when Gemma gets herself a captive and whips out her skinning knife.

As the violence intensifies and the teens' situation becomes heartrendingly dire, you might start getting sort of a TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE vibe with a bit of a Rob Zombie-ish feel as well.  The plot takes an interesting turn when we finally discover the twisted method to all the madness.

Despite its occasional lighthearted air and flashes of satire, FEAR PHARM is a rather potent dose of predicament horror whose story and production values transcend what appears to be a relatively low budget, and it succeeds in being good entertainment for fans of the genre.


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