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Fear (Mill Creek Entertainment) Blu-ray Review

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    Ian Jane
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  • Fear (Mill Creek Entertainment) Blu-ray Review

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    Released by: Mill Creek Entertainment
    Released on: March 28th, 2023.
    Director: James Foley
    Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Reese Witherspoon, Alyssa Milano, William Petersen
    Year: 1996
    Purchase From Amazon

    Fear – Movie Review:

    Directed by James Foley, who had recently come to much critical acclaim after directing the rightly lauded Glengarry Glen Ross, and released by Universal Studios in 1996, Fear tells the story of a lovely young woman named Nicole Walker (Reese Witherspoon) who lives with her father Steve (William Peterson), stepmother Laura (Amy Brenneman) and her stepbrother Toby (Christopher Gray). She leads a pretty normal existence in Seattle, Washington and, like a lot of girls her age, hopes to one day meet a handsome prince charming who will whisk her off to the perfect storybook romance life. As Nicole is starting to blossom into womanhood and is changing her appearance and fashion sense accordingly, there is some tension between she and her father about what she can wear and when, but overall, they care about one another. Nicole’s best friend is Margo (Alyssa Milano), whose life is a little more troubled than her own.

    Things get complicated, however, when a man named David (Mark Wahlberg), older than Nicole by a few years, appears on the scene and seems to be instantly smitten with her. Before long, the feeling is mutual and maybe, just maybe, Nicole has found her prince charming. Steven, however, senses that there’s something a little off about David – of course, no one will listen to him and as Nicole falls in love with the big lug, she soon comes to realize that her new beau not only has a definite dark side, but is also extremely possessive and controlling.

    Fear wastes much of its potential by not giving David any proper motivation for his obvious crazy ways. We learn that he’s an orphan and that he has a penchant for violence but not a whole lot more, he just sort of ends of obsessing over Nicole and that’s that. Is he just crazy? Maybe, but that isn’t especially well established either and this isn’t helped at all by Wahlberg’s performance. Granted, he’d get much better fairly soon, but at this point in his acting career, it seems he was cast more for his looks and his MTV fame than his talents as a thespian. His side of the story just isn’t developed very well, the movie never even tries to scratch beneath the surface.

    The rest of the cast, however, is pretty solid. Witherspoon is perfectly good here, creating a likeable and mostly sympathetic character out of Nicole effectively enough to bring us on board and hope she makes it out of all of this without too much damage. William Peterson and Amay Brenneman are also quite good as her parents, and while their characters make some pretty obvious missteps in trying to handle all that their daughter is going through, their acting is solid even if we’re left questioning some of their parenting skills. Supporting work from Gray and Milano is also decent, if not especially remarkable.

    Production values are typical for a mainstream Hollywood thriller from the nineties. The movie is well shot and makes good use of some nice locations. It has a solid score and an interesting soundtrack that is very much of its era, featuring tracks from the likes of Bush, The Sundays, Toad The Wet Sprocket and others.

    Fear – Blu-ray Review:

    Fear arrives on a 25GB disc in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 2.35.1 widescreen with the feature taking up 23.4GBs of space. Very likely taken from an older, existing master provided by Universal, the transfer is okay but not mind-blowing. Detail is good but not on par with what a new scan could offer these days, even if it clearly bests a standard definition offering. Colors look good and black levels are fine, though there is some crush in the darker scenes. Compression isn’t a problem. Again it all looks okay, just not reference quality and at times just a little flat.

    The English language 24-bit DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track sounds pretty solid. Optional subtitles are provided in English only. The sound mix is a good one, with plenty of aggressive and very active surround channel usage. Levels are balanced well, dialogue is clean and clear and both the sound effects and the score have really good range to them.

    A lot of Mill Creek releases are bare bones and this one is no different, though the disc does include the menus and chapter selection options you’d expect to see. It is worth pointing out the neat retro VHS style packaging though, which is a nice touch.

    Fear - The Final Word:

    Fear had potential but it never gets there and instead winds up a pretty mediocre thriller that seems more interested in showing off its attractive young cast members than in telling much of a story. Those who do enjoy the film can do so via Mill Creek’s decidedly affordable Blu-ray release, but know that it uses an older master and includes no extra features whatsoever.


    Click on the images below, or right click and open in a new window, for full sized Fear Blu-ray screen caps!

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