Phobia | Movie Review

Phobia is the title of the choral horror film produced by Tony Newton's "Vestra Pictures" in collaboration with Domiziano Cristopharo's "The Enchanted Architect" and Sam Mason Bell's "Trash Arts." The film deals with some of the most unusual phobias, psychopathological manifestations that create disturbances and limit, even drastically, the autonomy of the subject.

With these premises, Phobia triggers a certain kind of interest right from the start by proposing uncomfortable and dramatic set-pieces in which, the phobic characters will be confronted with their greatest fears that debilitate their daily lives.
The idea is ingenious, the overall result perhaps a little less so, but ultimately this collective horror film entertains even as the overall level is quite decent.

Phobia involves 16 international filmmakers who, in their episode, have treated and developed a specific phobia with originality. The segments, some successful and others less so (as in all anthology films), succeed, together, in creating an atmosphere of unease, especially in those episodes that are able to lay bare the phobia treated and create a sense of unease in the viewer. Indeed, not all segments succeed in conveying that anxiogenic sense typical of psychopathological manifestations which, unfortunately, are part of the truthful horror found in reality. It must be added, however, that given the directions in which a phobia can channel itself, this film, thus structured, will surely succeed in its intent to "annoy" the audience by shedding light on its "weaknesses," whether hidden or not.

The episode frame features a girl who turns on the TV and views, precisely, the episodes that make up the Phobia. The opening credits (and then the closing credits as well) are accompanied by catchy music (by Indian composer Antriksh Bali) that immediately grabs your attention.

phobia3The first episode is "Chaetophobia" (fear of hair and hair) by Lorenzo Zanoni & Alessandro Sisti. The protagonist is a serial killer who suffers from caetophobia and, because of this, is committed to exterminating all the hair that covers his body. His fixation on hair obviously overrides his figure to be reflected on the bodies of his victims as well.

Phobia opens the show on fears with an intense Italian short, incidentally well played by the male lead. The film succeeds in mirroring caetophobia by arousing awe and conveying a sense of unease. Definitely one of the best segments.

With Alessandro Pezzali, Marica Cotugnini and Luca Nicolai. The latter also handled the screenplay.

phobia2Instead, Chris Milewski produces, writes and directs "Pharmacophobia" (fear of taking drugs). This director's films are deeply influenced by Lucio Fulci, and even in this short he manages to recreate echoes of Fulci's cinema. The result is an enjoyable episode that well frames the chosen phobia.

In "Pharmacophobia", a man who has a phobia of medicine, agrees to take a syrup to treat a devastating fever. Improvement comes immediately but along with a fatal surprise.

In the cast: Terry Reilly, Karen Lynn Widoss, and Giorgio Bertuccelli (who also edited the score with Jim Ishii).

phobia6Alessandro Redaelli addresses partenophobia (fear of virgins or young women). In "Parthenophobia" the phobic protagonist is a porn actor assigned to film hard scenes with a fan who has retained her virginity for him.

Very engaging, "Parthenophobia" is an unusual and surprising episode that well represents the aforementioned phobia by accompanying it with panic attacks, anxiety and hallucinations.

The cast includes: Michael Maggi, Elisa Collo, Ernesto Pantaleone and Alessandro D'Alessandro.
Parthenophobia" is written by Ruggero Melis and Alessandro Redaelli.

CoprophobiaCoprophobia" (fear of feces) manages to make even those who think they have "a strong stomach" feel revulsion. In fact, the story revolves around a man (Martin W. Payne) who is afraid of his own feces and has serious difficulty evacuating.

The situation that is recreated highlights a pathology that drastically limits the protagonist's life. This is an episode that, to the initial amusement (because of the subject matter), gives way to disgust and then to drama.

This short is produced, written and directed by Jason Impey who also did the cinematography.

phobia7Poison Rouge signs the direction of "Misophobia" (fear of dirt and being contaminated). The director well proposes the pathological fear of contact with dirt.

In fact, the protagonist of his episode is a boy (Vincenzo Zaccardi) who applies exaggerated hygienic precautions, actions that will irreversibly degenerate. Shining through the short film is the fixation on cleanliness triggered by the terror of dirt.
Domiziano Cristopharo and Tony Newton contributed to the screenplay.

Of note are the successful practical effects by Athanasius Pernath and the murky soundtrack (Antony Coia).
The most extreme along with "Somniphobia" e "Hemophobia“.
Misophobia" is very reminiscent of American Guinea Pig: Sacrifice, also from Poison Rouge.

MazeophobiaMazeophobia" (fear of getting lost) by Dusting Ferguson. It is the weakest short in the anthology not only because of its drab direction but because it is incapable of conveying the sense of unease that accompanies the earlier stories instead.

Even the lead actor (who goes right and left in a car because he is unable to get his bearings) is not up to the role given to him.

AstrophobiaAstrophobia" (fear of stars or celestial space). Alessandro Giordani's direction is very refined, offering a romantic story with tragic implications and foregrounding pathology.

In "Astrophobia" a man falls in love with a girl with whom he establishes a relationship. Fear of the stars and celestial space, however, leads him to live in isolation. Noteworthy are the protagonist's good acting performance and transporting music.

MageirocophobiaDomiziano Cristopharo is the author of "Mageirocophobia" (fear of cooking), a short film starring Roberta Gemma, here in the role of a woman who becomes overwhelmed by her fear of food. A straightforward short film to which, to the hallucinations (and also the shapes) of the protagonist and her growing state of anxiety, is added a dash of humor. The ending is a keeper of an unexpected horror ending. As always, very well done special effects (Athanasius Pernath).

With Roberta Gemma and Mark Thompson Ashworth. Music is by Antriksh Bali.

GerascophobiaRob Ulitski was responsible for directing "Gerascophobia" (fear of growing old). In fact, the protagonist is a young man who experiences with (unwarranted) anxiety the aging process toward which his body will go. His fear will obviously reveal a complex psychiatric picture.

An uninvolving short that does not let the anxieties triggered by the phobia in question shine through very well. However, the film enjoys an unexpected and welcome final sequence.

PoliticophobiaPoliticophobia" (fear of politicians). Among the more unusual fears is the phobia of politicians, addressed here by Jackson Batchelor. The protagonist is a delusional phobic who is obsessed with everything related to politics, including election propaganda.

Also "Politicophobia" falls into the group of underwhelming shorts. The mediocrity with which it was made detracts from the curiosity to learn about an unusual fear such as politicalphobia, making it, thus, uninteresting.

SomniphobiaSomniphobia" (fear of sleep) by Michael J. Epstein and Sophia Cacciola. This fear also ranks among the more unusual phobias grouped in this choral horror film. The protagonist of this short is a man who will resort to anything, even extreme gestures, in order not to sleep.

Well-made short film that provides a well-detailed picture of this phobia. Indeed, those who suffer from it are convinced that they will never wake up again, that they will die in their sleep. This anxiety-generating belief is well reflected in the protagonist of "Somniphobia“.

Somniphobia" is produced, written and directed by Michael J. Epstein and Sophia Cacciola.
In the cast: Michael J. Epstein, Lianne O'Shea and Tyler Sage.

OneirophobiaSam Mason Bell directs "Oneirophobia" (Fear of Dreams), an episode with a tasteless story and, for that reason, trespassed along with the most discarded segments of the anthology. Too bad because, such a phobia, if imprinted differently, would have conferred an outstanding result.

In "Oneirophobia" one witnesses the dream of a girl lying in bed with her partner. As in the still, the man in black, who presumably embodies fear, tries to drag the young girl into the dream world.

NyctophobiaNyctophobia" by Sunny King deals with the fear of the dark and, at the same time, pays homage to Japanese horror movies but with little success.

Nyctophobia" is an enjoyable short film with polished direction and cinematography, but it is not punchy enough.

 

HemophobiaThe fear of blood could only be addressed by Davide Pesca, a director and effects artist who gives a lot of space to the said organic liquid in his films. In "Hemophobia" in fact, suffering from this phobia is the very girl in the episode frame who, during the vision of a bleeding female body (resulting in self-evisceration), is seized with malaise and is overcome by a panic attack that will cause the situation to get out of hand.

Splatter sequences are always welcome, of course if they are well done. Such is the case with "Hemophobia", a story that pours this choral horror film a good dose of gore thanks to the curated practical effects.
The finale also features some frames from "Peep Show", also by Davide Pesca.

Ultimately, the segments that constitute the strength of Phobia are different: "Chaetophobia“, “Parthenophobia“, “Misophobia“, “Mageirocophobia“, “Somniphobia" e "Hemophobia“.
They also have their charms "Pharmacophobia“, “Coprophobia“, “Astrophobia" e "Nyctophobia“.

phobia-poster

 

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Barbara Torretti
Barbara Torretti
Editor and moderator of the DarkVeins community. Passionate about horror cinema, I also do reviews and interviews pertaining to the film, music and art circuit.

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