A Fantastic Fear of Everything
Crispian Mills' directorial debut starts well but quickly loses pace
A film by the former lead singer of Kula Shaker might not sound an appetising prospect. But before dismissing A Fantastic Fear of Everything, we should remember that Crispian Mills’ film pedigree is pretty spot-on. He is, after all, the son of Hayley Mills and Boulting brother Roy. Factor in Simon Pegg as your lead and a story partly based on Bruce Robinson’s short story Paranoia in the Launderette and all of a sudden Fantastic Fear looks a rosier prospect.
For the first third, at least, it’s just that. Pegg plays Jack, a children’s author turned crime writer whose research into Victorian killers has morphed him into a recluse fearful of being murdered. Spooky but evocative, these early scenes have a real Edgar Wright energy to the camera work as Jack sits trembling at every noise outside. Pegg, his face twisted in constant terror, is great to watch.
The trouble is the burden falls almost entirely on Pegg to carry the movie. And that’s not easy when you’ve got the flimsiest of plots to work with (as Jack must get to a meeting with a mysterious Hollywood bigwig but first face his fear of the launderette). There’s a not-that-great love story, involving Amara Karan’s girl-next-door, thrown in, and a serial killer on the loose sub-plot that proves what Kurt Cobain once said: ‘Just because you’re paranoid, don’t mean they’re not after you.’
While the wheels start spinning in the film’s overly drawn-out launderette sequence, they pretty much come off by the final act, when the pacing sags like an old mattress. Snatches of Bruce Robinson’s voice can be heard, but too often it feels insubstantial, like a sub-Withnail and I, or a League of Gentleman-style sketch. While Mills has a strong visual eye, the result is more flawed than fearless.
General release from Fri 8 Jun.