A Fantastic Fear of Everything

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A Fantastic Fear of Everything
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Chris Hopewell
Crispian Mills
Produced by Geraldine Patten
Written by Crispian Mills
Starring Simon Pegg
Clare Higgins
Amara Karan
Paul Freeman
Alan Drake
Music by Michael Price
Cinematography Simon Chaudoir
Edited by Dan Roberts
Sensitive Artist Productions Limited
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release dates
  • 8 June 2012 (2012-06-08)
Running time
100 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English

A Fantastic Fear of Everything is a 2012 British horror comedy film starring Simon Pegg, written and directed by Crispian Mills with Chris Hopewell as co-director. It is based on the novella Paranoia in the Launderette by Bruce Robinson, writer and director of Withnail and I. It has been described as a low-budget "semicomedy" about a children’s author-turned-crime-novelist who has become obsessed with murder and murdering.[1] It was released on 8 June 2012 in the United Kingdom and Ireland, and received a limited U.S. theatrical release on February 7, 2014. The BBFC classified the film a 15 certificate in the UK, while the MPAA rated the film R in America.

Principal photography began on 6 July 2011. Filmed at Shepperton Studios, the film was the first to be backed by Pinewood Studios' initiative to support low-budget British films. It was released by Universal Pictures in the UK and Indomina Releasing in the US.[2]


Jack is a children's author whose happy marriage has been destroyed by his obsession with his unpublished first book, Harold the Hedgehog.

Now he is working on a series of scripts titled "Decades of Death" about Victorian-era serial killers. He has become obsessed with serial killers and paranoid that people are watching him and trying to kill him. This is not helped by the fact that a serial killer called the Hanoi Handshake Killer, who cuts off eight fingers of his victims, has been active in his neighborhood.

A group of young carolers come to his house and ask for some money which he gives them inside of his sock. The phone rings and he screams causing the carolers to run away with his sock. The phone call is from his agent, Claire, who tells him that Harvey Humphries, the head of scripts at the BBC, is interested in "Decades of Death" series and arranges a meeting between the two with just a few hours notice. Jack then convinces himself that Humphries is a serial killer, because his first name is the same as the middle name of Hawley Harvey Crippen, a famous murderer he researched for "Decades of Death".

A helicopter searching for the Hanoi Handshake Killer flies over Jack's apartment shining lights into his window. Frustrated, Jack permanently seals the window shut with a bottle of superglue.

Tony, a community support police officer, comes to the house and asks Jack if he is okay, because the caroling children had reported that he seemed to be in distress. Jack assures Tony that he is fine and Tony leaves.

Jack tries to clean his clothes in the oven to be presentable for his meeting with Humphries, only to find that he has accidentally super-glued a carving knife to his hand. While he is trying to dislodge the carving knife his apartment fills with smoke from his clothes in the oven. When he opens the oven it blows him across the room and he discovers his clothes are ruined.

Jack realizes that the only way he can get clean clothes for the meeting is to go to the laundrette. But he is terrified of laundrette so he calls Professor Friedkin, an old friend, and asks him to help. We learn that Jack was abandoned by his mother as a child and something traumatic happened to him involving a story about a hedgehog. Professor Friedkin convinces Jack that he must confront his fears and go to the laundrette.

On the way to the laundrette Jack bumps into Tony again. While at the laundrette, he doesn't understand how the machines work and doesn't know that he has to put soap in the washing machine. He decides to just dry the clothes because he doesn't have time to wash them again.

When a beautiful young woman walks into the laundrette Jack suddenly realizes that half his hair was burned off when he opened the oven and people have been staring at him because he looks so strange. He rushes to remove his still damp clothes from the dryer so he can leave, accidentally throwing his underwear across the room. The beautiful young woman returns the underwear to him causing him even more distress. While trying to explain that the underwear are not his he takes his hand out of his coat pocket forgetting the carving knife is still glued to his hand. The other occupants of the laundrette attack him, then lock him in the laundrette and call the police.

When the police arrive they break into the laundrette and subdue Jack with a taser. While he is lying on the floor he suddenly remembers that his mother had abandoned him at a laundrette with a book about a hedgehog.

The police remove the super-glued knife from his hand and treat his wounds. They are about to return him to the police station when a helicopter flies over and announces that there is an emergency and they are needed elsewhere. They hastily throw Jack into the back of the police van and drive off, not realizing that he has fallen out of the back of the van.

The beautiful young woman is still there and they meet Tony briefly. Tony follows the young woman while Jack returns to the laundrette to get his clean shirt for his meeting. While Jack is changing into his shirt he notices that a back door that had been locked closed is now open. He goes through the door and finds a hatch in the floor which he opens. As he looks through the hatch someone hits him from behind.

Jack wakes up in the basement of the laundrette tied up next to the beautiful young woman. They panic and scream. Then Tony, the community support police officer, comes down the stairs. They think they are saved and urge him to get help but he closes the hatch and tells them that when the washing machine in front of them completes its cycle he will kill them. He admits to them that he is the Hanoi Handshake Killer. He cuts the fingers off of his victims to blame the killings on the Vietnamese mafia. Tony tells them that the laundrette used to belong to his grandmother until the Vietnamese immigrants pushed her out. He is killing people as revenge for his grandmother. Then he goes back upstairs to sharpen his knife.

When Tony leaves Jack tells the woman that he was abandoned in a laundrette as a child and couldn't speak for six weeks and now he is going to die in a laundrette. She comforts him and urges him not to give up hope. Jack asks her name and she tells him it is Sangeet and he asks her if she will have dinner with him if when they get out of there.

Tony returns wearing sunglasses and carrying a boom box playing "The Final Countdown". Tony and Jack argue about the song and Tony tells them about how he used to lie on his bed in a corner of the basement listening to this music and imagining that he was a rock star with long hair. His mother died when he was very young and his grandmother took him in and gave him a room in the cellar. During this story we see that this was the same launderette the Jack was abandoned in and he was being watched by Tony from the back room.

Jack and Sangeet try to get Tony to admit that his grandmother did not take proper care of him. But he insists that he is Ok because he is such a successful serial killer. Jack argues that Tony is not a good serial killer because he is not original (he has his grandmother's body in a rocking chair like Psycho and his last name is Perkins), and the name he chose (Hanoi Handshake) isn't scary.

The washing machine enters the spin cycle and Tony is about to kill Jack when Sangeet gets free and knocks Tony out. Sangeet tries to escape but Tony recovers and drags her back into the cellar. As Tony is struggling with Sangeet she tells Jack to tell Tony a story. Jack convinces Tony to listen to a story as his final request.

Jack tells the story of "Brian the Hedgehog". Tony identifies with Brian and cries. He admits that he didn't kill the first victim he just found the body. And his grandmother isn't in the chair, it is just a mannequin. The phone in Jacks pocket starts ringing and the owner of the launderette opens the hatch. Jack and Sangeet scream for help.

Several months later we see a well groomed Jack reading his book about Harold and Brian, the hedgehogs, to a group of children. Sangeet and Professor Friedkin are there. Jack's agent, Claire, finally introduces him to Harvey Humphries. Sangeet reminds Jack that they are going to dinner. They leave the event and catch a taxi as the credits roll over the frame.


Critical reception[edit]

The film received mixed to negative reviews. Film review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes giving a 33% "rotten" rating based on 26 reviews, with an average rating of 4.2/10. The site's consensus reads: "Aside from a few chuckles and Simon Pegg's reliably affable screen presence, A Fantastic Fear of Everything has embarrassingly little to offer."[3]


  1. ^ Grose, Jessica (15 June 2011). "Questions for Simon Pegg". Slate.com. 
  2. ^ "Simon Pegg Signs on for 'A Fantastic Fear of Everything'". The Hollywood Reporter. 27 July 2011. Retrieved 14 August 2011. 
  3. ^ "A Fantastic Fear of Everything". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved July 8, 2014. 

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