A Fantastic Fear of Everything review

Veteran director Billy Wilder once said that movies were like a souffle. Upon completion, they either rise or sink. Poor Crispian Mills' debut effort not only sinks but evaporates. It's a schizophrenic mess that runs out of steam all too quickly despite the valiant efforts of Pegg.

He's a funny guy to be sure, and here playing a paranoid writer holed up in his grungy flat, afraid that everyone is out to murder him, he makes his eccentric character agreeably watchable for about 20 minutes or so. The scene where he goes to a restaurant to have dinner with his agent (Higgins), falling over in fear of the maitre d' is Pegg at his best – he has energy to spare and his manic worry personified by his constantly expressive features are certainly amusing.

But we soon lose patience with him, his relentless narration and the silly plot that unfolds. A long-winded scene in a launderette leads to him and pretty Amara Khan being held captive by a serial killer in the basement. Or do they? Is it all part of his fevered imagination? We're also subjected to a wearying animation episode involving a hedgehog. By this time you'll have given up caring.

The hard work by the cast all go for naught, wasted on a duff script that can't make up its mind what it wants to be. Mills has a certain facility for building mood – an early jolt isn't bad – but it's all too strained and never engaging enough. A sorry misfire overall – dire, demented and debilitating. Avoid.

A Fantastic Fear of Everything at IMDb

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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