I heard the name Fear Clinic because I follow Robert Englund on Twitter. So there I was at Best Buy, saw that it was on sale for $10, and it had a shiny “exclusive” sticker on the Blu-ray. I had to pick it up.
First things first, this is based off a five-part web series, and had an Indiegogo campaign to help fund the film’s production. I’ve not seen the series, and didn’t realize until half way through the film that it even existed, which explains why so much of the film makes no sense. The Blu-ray disc itself has only one special feature, and it’s not the web series, which would make sense. Instead, it’s a “making of” featurette. The web series’ five-parts total roughly 30-minutes, which would easily fit onto a Blu-ray disc. The fact that this is not included here is utter garbage.
So here’s the gist of Fear Clinic: Dr. Andover (played by the legendary Robert Englund) runs a fear clinic. He places people into a tube-like machine and has them face their fears, and then cures them. Well, it’s two and a half years after the web series, and the clinic has failed. There is a big shooting at a diner and each person happens to come to the clinic to be cured. The trauma from the shooting has caused real phobias to kick in. The fear of the dark, arachnophobia, and the list goes on. As the film progresses, it’s clear that something is amiss, and these fears start coming to life in the worst ways possible.
The entire plot makes no sense, and even as the film progressed, I was not able to piece it all together. It wasn’t until I watched the “making of” documentary that it all clicked because they explain the backstory, and clarified that all of these people were part of this shooting. This is a terrible plot device, and just doesn’t work in the context of what the film is striving for.
Director Robert Hall first hit the horror scene with the two Laid to Rest films. I know I’ve seen them thanks to Letterboxd, but I thought they were both mediocre efforts. Judging by this film’s trailer, which mostly uses footage from the web series, the practical effects were really good in the web series, but for some reason, he has decided to rely heavily on CGI for the feature film. Fear Clinic opens with a voiceover narration about a girl who has a fear of cockroaches. What we see on-screen is this weird, brown blob that might look like a cockroach with lots of squinting. The CGI gets worse later as a boil is busted and some shady looking spiders crawl out. These poorly done CGI moments destroy every effort that is otherwise put into the scene. There are some great practical effects, though. The best effort is in the finale. I won’t mention it directly, but just look at the cover design if you want an idea of what I’m talking about. This moment is a solid design, and looks great on the screen.
The one redeeming factor of Fear Clinic is that they were able to get a decent cast together. This is Fiona Dourif’s second film, and while she isn’t as good here as she was in Curse of Chucky, she has enough power to be a Scream Queen in the making. Robert Englund is obviously the big name draw here, and he’s really good in his role. There’s a scene with him near the end – I like to call it the “Have Faith” scene – that is downright creepy. I do have to give props to Englund for giving us some rear nudity, and a couple flashes of his pubic region. And, don’t worry guys, there’s a naked lady later in the film if a nude Freddy Krueger isn’t your thing. Corey Taylor, from Slipknot and Stone Sour, also has a decent role here. He gets the job done, but breaks the fourth wall at one point when he jams out to a Stone Sour song.
I knew very little about about Fear Clinic coming in, so while I typed up this review, I had the web series playing in the background. The CGI cockroach is from the series, and it seems a lot of themes are taken right from the web series, and just rehashed in the film, which is weird. Besides a few brief, solid moments, the rest of the film feels like a wasted effort. Because Fear Clinic makes so little sense, I can’t even recommend checking it out if it’s streaming, which is a shame.