Fear (1996 film)
Promotional film poster
|Directed by||James Foley|
|Produced by||Brian Grazer|
|Written by||Christopher Crowe|
|Music by||Carter Burwell|
|Edited by||David Brenner|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
Fear is a 1996 American thriller drama film directed by James Foley (who co-scripted without credit). It was written by Christopher Crowe, who created the TV series B.L. Stryker, The Watcher, B.J. and the Bear, and (with his brother Zachary) Seven Days.
The film stars Mark Wahlberg, Reese Witherspoon, William Petersen, Amy Brenneman and Alyssa Milano. Originally titled No Fear (without bearing any connection to the same-named line of sporting apparel), the movie is partly inspired by the 1993 Bollywood film Darr. It is not a remake of the 1917, 1946, 1965, or 1990 films despite having the same title.
Nicole Walker (Reese Witherspoon) is a fairly innocent teenager with a rebellious streak. Having been kicked out of her mother's house, she now lives in the suburbs of Seattle with her well-meaning but overbearing father Steven (William Petersen) and his new family: second wife, Laura (Amy Brenneman); Toby (Christopher Gray), Laura's preteen son from her first marriage. At a rave, Nicole meets David McCall (Mark Wahlberg), who has borderline personality disorder and antisocial features. She is swept off her feet by his sweet, polite nature. Steven seems to like David at first but gradually comes to mistrust him; Steven also gets angry when Nicole violates her curfews to spend more time with David. Eventually, while Steven and Laura are on a business trip, Nicole and David have sex at her home...flagrantly disobeying a house rule about unsupervised guests. One day, David scares Nicole by assaulting her friend Gary (Todd Caldecott) upon seeing them hug each other. He shoves Nicole to the ground when she tries to stop him, giving her a black eye. Nicole ends things with David, leaving him crushed, but her father's now-intense opposition to David paradoxically drives her to accept David's apologies. Steven suspiciously checks into David's background. He finds out that David spent his early life with various foster families, until getting arrested and/or institutionalized. When David turned 18, he was released from foster care.
Steven confronts David on a street corner and orders him to stop seeing Nicole. One night, Nicole witnesses David forcing her best friend Margo Masse (Alyssa Milano) to have sex with him. She misinterprets this as a consensual act and breaks the relationship off again with David. The next day, when David tries to surprise Nicole, she pushes him away. Gary also tells David to leave Nicole alone. Nicole also ends her friendship with Margo, despite her pleas for forgiveness. When David finds out why Nicole dumped him, he threatens Margo with violence unless she fixes things with Nicole. David's obsession with Nicole turns increasingly violent; he carves "Nicole 4-ever" into his chest. Then David sees Nicole hugging Gary again, and gets jealous. Nicole goes with Toby and Laura to the mall; they invite Gary along, but he has to get home. David sees Gary walking alone through the woods, and kills him in a jealous rage by snapping Gary's neck. David also vandalizes Steven's prized Mustang and leaves a taunting note to him: "Now I've popped both your cherries". Steven breaks into David's house, where he finds an obscene shrine that David has built for Nicole...along with a box containing: a vandalized bracelet, which read "Daddy's Girl" but has been changed to "David's Girl"; a pair of Nicole's underwear; a defaced family photo that finds Steven's face and head replaced with David's. Steven trashes the house in a rage. David returns home and promptly concludes that Steven has been there. He determines to break into the Walker residence, with the help of his equally violent friends: Hacker (Gary Riley), Knobby (Jed Rees), Logan (Tracy Fraim), and Terry (Jason Kristofer). A distraught Margo is at Nicole's house also, having come to inform the Walkers that Gary has been found dead in the woods.
David and his friends behead Kaiser (Banner), the Walkers' German Shepherd. When Hacker tries breaking into the kitchen with an axe, Laura injures his hand with a drill. Knobby escorts Hacker to a hospital. Terry attempts to get inside from upstairs, but Nicole knocks him to the yard below with an umbrella. Nicole signals Larry, the Walkers' private security guard, by flashing "SOS" with the light in her room. Larry arrives to see David, who's pretending to come from Nicole's house. Logan attacks Larry from behind with a pole, but misses. Steven comes outside; he punches Logan, and then David. Suddenly, Terry shoots Larry dead from behind. All three hoods pummel Steven and take him hostage, then force their way into the house after commandeering Larry's handcuffs and pistol. They cuff up Steven and Laura, taping their mouths shut. When Logan attempts to rape Nicole, Margo intervenes only to get coldcocked. Toby, having escaped through another window, gets to Laura's SUV and uses her car phone to dial 9-1-1 (since David's friends cut the phone lines to the house). Toby has to start the engine to make the phone work; Terry notices this and shoots out the windshield - just missing Toby, who runs Terry down with the SUV. David brings a bound and gagged Steven into Nicole's room to "say goodbye" to his daughter; he also shoots Logan dead for trying to rape Nicole. Toby re-enters the house and gets the keys to the handcuffs, with which he frees both his parents. David gently tells Nicole, "It has to be this way," and asks her if she wants to go with him. To save her family, Nicole agrees to go and pretends to reciprocate his affection. Just then Steven rushes David, only to get pistol-whipped upside the head. David prepares to execute Steven ("You will forever hold your peace!"), but Nicole prevents this by stabbing David in the back with a "peace pipe" letter opener (which David himself won at a carnival on a previous date with Nicole). Still clutching his gun, David gets up and lumbers toward Nicole; she stands ready for him, despite being less sure than ever of what he intends to do with her. Then Steven suddenly gets up and pounces on David from behind, disarming him. As Nicole looks on, both men fight brutally until David is thrown from a window to his death. The family and Margo share a group-hug as the police and EMTs arrive.
- Mark Wahlberg as David McCall
- Reese Witherspoon as Nicole Walker
- William Petersen as Steven Walker
- Amy Brenneman as Laura Walker
- Alyssa Milano as Margo Masse
- Gary Riley as Hacker
- Jed Rees as Knobby
- Todd Caldecott as Gary Rohmer
- Andrew Airlie as Alex McDowell
- Christopher Gray as Toby Walker
- Tracy Fraim as Logan
- Jason Kristofer as Terry
- John Oliver as Eddie Clark
- David Fredericks as Larry O'Brien
- Banner the Dog as Kaiser
Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle said, "Fear is hard to resist. On one hand it's a shameless thriller that makes up for the inevitability of its story by consistently being bigger, faster and more appalling than you might expect. On the other hand, it contains enough truth about fathers, teenaged daughters and young lust to distinguish it from most thrillers and ground it in vivid emotion. It is a nightmare fantasy for fathers. Director James Foley and screenwriter Christopher Crowe keep raising the stakes all the way to a finish that's something out of The Straw Dogs. It's a maddening, satisfying, junky, enjoyable picture." 
Fear opened at #4 with $6,312,240 upon its opening weekend recouping 97% of its budget (4/12-14). By the end of its run, the film earned $20,831,000 domestically. The film was perceived as a moderate success, since its gross tripled its budget.
The film was placed as #19 on Bravo TV's "30 Even Scarier Movie Moments".
Songs used in the film
- "Jessica" – The Allman Brothers Band (played in Steve's car while he is chatting with Nicole about an upcoming James Taylor concert)
- "Green Mind" – Dink (contains samples from "Friendly Fascism"; played at the rave where David hooks up with Nicole, and also used in the film's theatrical trailer)
- "Comedown" – Bush (played over montage of David picking Nicole up from school to play billiards and go on a subsequent date)
- "Wild Horses" – The Sundays (played over now-notorious rollercoaster-sex scene, and also used in the film's theatrical trailer)
- "Machinehead" – Bush (played over montage of David wondering how he's going to make peace with Nicole, after she dumps him for beating up Gary)
- "Something's Always Wrong" – Toad the Wet Sprocket
- "Animal" – Prick (played at David's party where Nicole secretly observes him cheating on her with Margo)
- "Stars and Stripes Forever" – C.H.S. Municipal Band
- "The Illist" – Marky Mark (written by Mark Wahlberg, Fabian Cooke)
- "Irie Vibe" – One Love (written by Mark Wahlberg, Fabian Cooke; played at the pool hall where David and Nicole first encounter each other)
- "Fear Movie Reviews, Pictures - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2010-02-12.
- Nick LaSalle, "Chilling 'Fear' finds its Mark, Wahlberg stars in lustful teen thriller." San Francisco Chronicle, Apr. 12, 1996. http://www.sfgate.com/movies/article/Chilling-Fear-Finds-Its-Mark-Wahlberg-stars-2986174.php
- "Fear (1996) - Box Office Mojo". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2010-02-12.
- Neal Romanek, "The Top 5 Carter Burwell Film Scores." http://www.nealromanek.com/top-5-carter-burwell-film-scores/
- Fear at the Internet Movie Database
- Fear at the TCM Movie Database
- Fear at AllMovie
- Fear at Box Office Mojo
- Fear at Rotten Tomatoes
- Good Bad Flicks review