INDIE HORROR FILM OF THE WEEK: PHOBIA

SYNOPSIS OF PHOBIA VIA IMDB:

“Jonathan MacKinlay (Michael Jefferson) has been afflicted with agoraphobia ever since the car accident that killed his wife (Sarah Schoofs).  Since that night, he lived a life of identical days trapped in his own home, the monotony broken up only by visits from his best friend Taylor (Andrew Ruth), his therapist Dr. Edmondson (Peter Gregus) and Bree (Emma Dubery), the woman who brings his groceries.  When a violent home invasion disrupts his world and threatens his sanity, he begins to believe an evil presence now haunts his home - but is it real or just in his imagination?  He’ll have to survive to find out.”

MY REVIEW:

“Phobia” is the first feature film from director Rory Douglas Abel.  I absolutely loved the concept of the movie and I’m also a fan of directors who don’t give us a finite ending to their movie.  I love when we, the viewers, have to use our imagination to come to our own conclusion - which Rory Abel does with “Phobia.”  

We find out early on that the main character, Jonathan MacKinlay, suffers from agoraphobia after the death of his wife.  Jonathan is trying to work hard with his therapist to overcome his agoraphobia but is continuing to struggle each day, then he meets Bree - the woman who brings him his groceries.  As their relationship grows and his agoraphobia gets worse, he starts to see a presence in his home that does not seem very welcoming.  

I think that this film had a lot of potential and I really liked what the director was trying to achieve.  The casting of Jonathan MacKinlay’s wife, played by Sarah Schoofs, was terrific.  Sarah did an amazing job in portraying Jonathan’s wife pre-death as well as present and post-death.  She was confident on screen and was able to hold her own.  She also had a very creepy vibe to her which gave me goosebumps during a few of her scenes.  However, I do feel like the main actor, Michael Jefferson, had a hard time holding his own in this movie.  There were a few times when I could see his confidence shining through but more times than naught he lost his rhythm which became very distracting.  

The other thing that was confusing is when I first heard about this movie, and I saw the poster, I had made the assumption that this movie was going to be based on different types of phobias.  However, the film just focuses on one phobia: agoraphobia.  I understand not wanting to call the film “AGORAPHOBIA” as it doesn’t sound appealing, but for marketing purposes I think choosing a different name would have given audiences a better idea of what the movie is about.  I did some research and found on IMBD that the original title of the film was going to be “Alone” which I found to be way more fitting to the movie than “Phobia.”  The concept of agoraphobia is frigthening in general and I would have loved to have seen this explored more.  

There were a few times when I got confused as to what was going on in the movie.  As Jonathan’s relationship grew with his helper, Bree, a lot of other background distractions were happening with Jonathan’s agoraphobia.  When the movie ended I remember thinking to myself that I have a lot of questions about Jonathan’s condition and with what really happened with him.  As I stated in the first paragraph, I like when the directors leave things open ended for the viewer to piece together but there were times during this film when I felt like too much was left for interpretation. 

Overall I think that the film has a lot going for it.  I wish I could have seen stronger acting from the main character and a bit more of a cohesive story line to match what the poster for the film was trying to achieve.  Overall, I give this film a 3 ½ out of 5 stars.  I’m really looking forward to seeing what else Rory has in store for us as I see him being a really talented and successful filmmaker.