Fear (1996 film)

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Promotional film poster
Directed by James Foley
Produced by Brian Grazer
Written by Christopher Crowe
Starring Mark Wahlberg
Reese Witherspoon
William Petersen
Alyssa Milano
Amy Brenneman
Music by Carter Burwell
Cinematography Thomas Kloss
Edited by David Brenner
Imagine Entertainment
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date(s)
  • April 12, 1996 (1996-04-12)
Running time 96 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $6,500,000
Box office $20,831,000

Fear is a 1996 American thriller film directed by James Foley, written by Christopher Crowe, starring Mark Wahlberg, Reese Witherspoon, William Petersen, Amy Brenneman and Alyssa Milano. The film is partly inspired from the 1993 Bollywood Film.


Nicole Walker (Reese Witherspoon) is a fairly innocent teenager, living with her overbearing father, Steven (William Petersen), her stepmother, Laura (Amy Brenneman), and her stepbrother, Toby (Christopher Gray) in the suburbs of Seattle. At a rave, she meets David McCall (Mark Wahlberg) who has borderline personality disorder and antisocial features, and is swept off her feet by his sweet, polite nature. At first Steven seems to like David, but he gradually comes to mistrust him, and he gets angry when Nicole violates her curfews to spend more time with David. Eventually Nicole and David have sex. One day, David scares Nicole when he assaults her friend Gary (Todd Caldecott) after he sees them hugging. 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 encourages her to accept David's apologies. Steven is suspicious about David, so he checks into David's background and finds out that David is not who he appears to be.

Steven confronts David on a street corner and orders him to stop seeing Nicole. One night, Nicole witnesses David forcing her best friend Margo (Alyssa Milano) to have sex with him. She misinterprets this as a consensual act and breaks the relationship off again. 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. The next day, David vandalizes Steven's prized car and leaves a taunting note to him. Steven breaks into David's house, and after finding out that David has built an obscene shrine for Nicole, trashes it in a rage. David's obsession with Nicole turns increasingly violent, including carving her name into his chest, killing Gary in a jealous rage by snapping his neck in the woods, and eventually breaking into Nicole's house, with the help of his equally violent friends - Hacker (Gary Riley), Knobby (Jed Rees), Logan (Tracy Fraim), and Terry (Jason Kristofer), to get revenge on her family. Margo, distraught at learning Gary has been found dead in the woods, goes to the Walker house to inform them.

David and his friends first behead the family dog, Kaiser, then kill the family's private security guard, confiscate his cuffs and gun, and force their way into the house. They cuff Steven and Laura and tape their mouths shut. Logan attempts to rape Nicole; Margo intervenes and gets beaten as well. Toby, who escapes through another window, gets to Laura's car and uses the car phone to dial 9-1-1, since David's friends cut the phone lines to the house. He also runs over Terry who tries to shoot him. David brings a tied-up and gagged Steven into Nicole's room to "say goodbye" to his daughter, then kills Logan by shooting him in the head, for trying to rape Nicole. Toby re-enters the house and manages to get the keys to the handcuffs, freeing Laura. David gently tells Nicole, "It has to be this way," and asks her if she wants to go with him. She fakes affection for him and says yes. Meanwhile, Laura frees Steven and Nicole stabs David in the back with a peace pipe (which was won at a carnival by David in an earlier scene). Steven fights with David and throws him out a window to his death. The family and Margo embrace as the police and EMTs arrive to multiple dead bodies.



The film received generally negative reviews from critics, holding a 39% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 31 reviews.[1]

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." [2]

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.[3] 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".

The dramatic and tense score by Carter Burwell was praised and well received.[4]

Songs used in the film[edit]

  1. "Jessica" - The Allman Brothers Band
  2. "Green Mind" - Dink (contains samples from "Friendly Fascism")
  3. "Comedown" - Bush
  4. "Wild Horses" - The Sundays
  5. "Machinehead" - Bush
  6. "Something's Always Wrong" - Toad the Wet Sprocket
  7. "Animal" - Prick
  8. "Stars and Stripes Forever" - C.H.S. Municipal Band
  9. "The Illist" - Marky Mark (written by Mark Wahlberg, Fabian Cooke)
  10. "Irie Vibe" - One Love (written by Mark Wahlberg, Fabian Cooke)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Fear Movie Reviews, Pictures - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2010-02-12. 
  2. ^ 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
  3. ^ "Fear (1996) - Box Office Mojo". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2010-02-12. 
  4. ^ Neal Romanek, "The Top 5 Carter Burwell Film Scores." http://www.nealromanek.com/top-5-carter-burwell-film-scores/

External links[edit]