out of Five
Running time: 100
Poorly directed and shockingly written, this is an utterly dismal comedy-horror that reduces Pegg to a series of awkward mugging scenes, never manages to find the right tone and fails to deliver a single laugh.
What's it all about?
Co-written and directed by Crispian Mills (son of Hayley and lead singer of Kula Shaker), A Fantastic Fear of Everything stars Simon Pegg as Jack, a writer who's become a reclusive paranoid as a result of working on a television script about Victorian serial killers. When he's forced to leave his flat to meet his agent (Clare Higgins), Jack is rewarded with good news when she tells him she's set up a meeting with a producer, but this necessitates a trip to the laundrette, which is one of Jack's greatest fears. However, the laundrette experience proves to be every bit as disastrous as Jack had envisioned and soon he's caught up in a nightmarish situation involving a local cop (Alan
Drake) and an attractive fellow launderer (Amara Karan).
This is a dismal and depressing disaster from beginning to end: the main problem is that the confused script can't seem to decide whether it's a comedy, a horror or a psychological thriller and never manages to find the right tone. In fact, the failure of tone is so pronounced and the direction so poor overall that you spend the first half of the film wondering if it's actually meant to be funny at all, before burying your head in your hands somewhere around the middle point.
Simon Pegg is an extremely likeable actor (even when he's playing Toby Young in How to Lose Friends and Alienate People), but Mills and co-writer Geraldine Patten's script reduces him to a series of excruciating mugging scenes and his familiar, amiable screen persona is never allowed to shine through. Similarly, the film is further brought down by Drake's painful-to-watch over-acting, while Karan tries her best, but is saddled with dreadful dialogue.
On top of that, the script fails to deliver a single laugh and the various situations never ring true - this is one of the rare films where the events all turning out to be in the main character's head would be a relief rather than a cop out. The film is further hampered by an irritating, ever-present voiceover that makes it difficult to care about anything that's happening on screen.
A Fantastic Fear of Everything is unquestionably one of the worst British films of the year, thanks to a badly written, poorly conceived script, dismal direction and a performance from Pegg that's painful to watch. Avoid.