Review: PHOBIA

PHOBIA_DVD_HICOh, Phobias. While all of us deal with them in one way or another, some fears are almost crippling, taking an individual over and refusing to let said individual live their normal life. Phobias are always ripe for cinematic dissection, and Rory Douglas Abel’s aptly titled PHOBIA does just that. Taking the more common than you’d think Agoraphobia and possibly injecting a supernatural element into it, the film isn’t perfect, but is entertaining enough.

Following a car accident that kills his wife, Jonathan MacKinlay (Michael Jefferson) is terrified of going outside and the idea of stepping foot into the outside world leaves him in full blown panic attack mode. His only contact with anyone comes from visits from his doctor, his best friend Taylor, and a delivery girl named Bree. While that might be enough for some, MacKinlay’s psyche continually gets worse, and following an attack within his building (by somebody who looks a lot like himself), his gradual descent into madness becomes a lot faster than expected. Soon, Jonathan is seeing a ghastly woman in black, among other supernatural entities that could or could not just be him losing his mind in the middle of trying to put his life back together.

If there’s an element of PHOBIA that hinders the film, it’s the speed of what goes on. As viewers, we’re not given much of the time when Jonathan was happy and with his wife, instead the film shows the aftermath of the crash, and almost immediately puts a quick, budding maybe-romance between MacKinlay and the character of Bree. I’m all for finding solace in whatever way one feels necessary, but as a viewer, you ask yourself how one is supposed to sympathize with a man traumatized by the death of his wife, when the guy beds the delivery girl, freaks out at a possible ghost one second, and then has a long, calm conversation with another character like nothing happened. It’s the element of being uneven that stops the film from being what it has potential to be: a psychological look at how emotionally traumatized an individual can be when put through something awful. Jefferson is good as Jonathan and it would’ve been great to see more of the character’s development into the state in which he’s in.

The film’s unevenness doesn’t make up the whole film though, it’s actually pretty entertaining when it allows things to play out in front of you. The acting is good, the story itself is easy to grab a hold of, and the film’s payoff is an unexpected yet very interesting one. Had the film been tightened up a bit and the DVD didn’t feature artwork that has NOTHING to do with the film, it would be a lot more effective, but even as it is, it’s still worth checking out. Abel has talent as a director, and it’ll be fun to see what he has up his sleeve next. With PHOBIA being his feature debut, there’s enough to dig in the film, and the movie’s slight missteps are ones that don’t take you out of the film, instead just causing you to wait for the next moment.




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