Tuesday 30 June 2020

The Fear Of Looking Up (2019)

I'm not entirely sure what I think of The Fear Of Looking Up, and I'm also not entirely sure that's necessarily a bad thing. It may be a bit too slow for its own good a lot of the time, and I don't think the payoff rewards the viewer as much as other options would have, but it's an interesting look at revenge and grief, bolted to a surprisingly straightforward "good cop hunting a killer" plotline.

Friday Chamberlain is Jamie, a cop who is on the tail of a serial killer who claims to be inspired by the god of sleep. Jamie also ends up having to deal with the death of her partner, which plunges her into a strange existence, one in which she spends time either thinking about her deceased loved one or thinking about the killer still out there. And if that all sounds pretty straightforward, well, it is. But it's just a background on which a number of delicate brushstrokes are placed to create a deeper, and effectively moving, picture.

Directed by Konstantinos Koutsoliotas, someone better known for his special effects work, although this is his second feature film as director, The Fear Of Looking Up is a horror-tinged drama that is aimed squarely at adult viewers. There are no big set-pieces here, no stupid characters slavishly obeying any sub-genre rules, and only a few moments of bloodshed, although it is surprising, stark, and generally unstylised. The script, by Koutsoliotas, Theo Albanis, and Elizabeth E. Schuch, also doesn't concern itself with having to provide answers to everything. This is a mood piece, first and foremost, and it moves along at a pace that allows anyone watching to enjoy the building atmosphere while also maybe considering some of the moments in their life when they may have felt similarly at a loss, or felt the weight of unfairness from some aspects of life pressing down like a physical weight.

Chamberlain does well in the lead role, although she was more enjoyable in the much lighter Bit (also from 2019). She has time to work on her craft and become better with each role, but this film doesn't allow room for error, keeping her as the focus for so much of the screentime. This makes it easier to see when she doesn't quite nail her performance, but there's definitely more to praise than to criticise. Tom Galasi makes a strong impression in his role, and Suzan Crowley does well as Annie, the boss trying to keep her good cop doing the right thing. Elsewhere, Kathryn Haynes does well in her vital role, and William Kalinak does decent work as a relatively minor, but equally important, supporting character(s).

Although I didn't love this as much as many other people seemed to, I'm certainly glad that I gave my time to it. It would be a very dull world indeed if all of our genre fare looked and felt exactly the same (well . . . we would have to name it WanWorld), and Koutsoliotas and company deserve praise for bringing something quite unique to the table. Despite technical limitations, this is an interesting vision. And interesting visions don't have to be neat or satisfying to be worthwhile.



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