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Home | Film Reviews | Film Review: What Really Frightens You? (2009)

Film Review: What Really Frightens You? (2009)

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A mysterious writer working for a monster fanzine asks three New Yorkers what really scares them. After the article is published the primal fears of each interviewee come true. Will they be frightened to death?


I’m a sucker for a film that titles itself after a question. In this case, it’s that ol familiar notion of what fear inducing nightmares do we all hold inside of us. Of course, the interesting part is that everyone has their own perspective on that idea. This idea is actually a major part of the premise of the film. We are introduced in the first 5 minutes to a man who is hallucinating that a demon is attacking him. Start it with a bang, that’s a sure way to get my attention. From there a sense of “Tales from the Crypt” meets “Hitchhiker” sets in on a familiar tone that also feels a bit like horror series TV.

We are introduced early on to a over anxious writer who wants to write a cover story piece for a local rag called “Ghastly Magazine”. In his pitch he is so passionate that you would think it was also the pitch for the movie itself. As the editor smugs about, he agrees to let the writer submit his piece to see if it measures up to their needs for a feature.

The article centers on finding willing volunteers to submit on camera what their worst fear is. The recipient gets a crispy $100 dollar bill and signs a waiver form. The subjects end up being 3 handpicked interviewees who basically represent a small portion of the metro area business community. I was surprised that an article would only base its report on 3 people but the idea was to keep the movie in an inclusive almost anthology feeling type of presentation. Each one discloses a fear that seems far removed from real fears but is good enough for the article I suppose. The film also makes sure to give plenty of charter background to each as we grow to learn the characters working lives and relationships. One is in fact a grown man who fears anything under his bed, another fears his gang mentality upbringing that could backfire on him and the 3rd is afraid to be public in her underwear. Ok, so the filmmakers didn’t go the easy route with so em fears that could be ultra violent or damaging…that’s ok, I’m still in for the ride and to see how this all plays out.

What follows is a creepy reporter who goes by the pen name of “ghostwriter” and likes to follow around his interviewed subjects. The subjects start to collect and revolt as there fears are starting to manifest themselves into there real lives. It appears that the fears are also backfiring within dreams and hallucinary circumstances.

What keeps you glued to the film is the notion of what does it all mean and what is the purpose of this guy and his fear monitoring. It also enables the story to throw  in a few choice visuals especially with the monster under the bed scenario. Though we didn’t have to think too hard to know that was coming. 2 of the subjects end up finding each other and threaten to sue the magazine. The idea is a bit of a stretch as they signed a waiver and they have no real case, but hey this is the movies…so we go along with the intent. The rest as mentioned before feels alot like horror series TV with the story coming full circle into the mystery of the man and the realization  of fear.

As the movie rounds off, the answers draw in closer and closer with the purpose of the ghost writer beginning to unveil and come full circle. Fans of old school style horror and Saturday night thrillers will love the story and where it takes you.

Directed Richard W. Haines who directed previous features such as “Class of Nuke em High” and “splatter University”….. “What Really Frightens you?” is a creative horror piece that is as fun to watch as the journey it takes you on. It’s full of monsters and head trips all in one.

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