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Film Review: Fear (1996)

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When Nicole met David; handsome, charming, affectionate, he was everything. It seemed perfect, but soon she sees that David has a darker side. And his adoration turns to obsession, their dream into a nightmare, and her love into fear.


1996 would mark a breakout year for many young stars who would go onto an illustrious career of A-list films. For those who remember it, this little film was an earlier appearance for namely 3 young stars: Mark Wahlberg, Reese Witherspoon and Alyssa Milano. In 96, Mark Wahlberg was just coming into his own as an acting talent to watch for. Up to then it was mainly rap videos and MTV slots.

Reese Witherspoon had just starred in a future cult classic named “Freeway” before taking on the role of Nicole Walker in “Fear”. Alyssa Milano was already well known form her TV sitcom “Who’s the Boss” and was already a lead in several films thereafter.

The story here is simple, but strikes a chord with concerned fathers as the film about the boyfriend who went bad. Mark Wahlberg is David McCall, a seemingly nice kid who appears to be well mannered, considerate, and soft spoken. Nicole falls head over heels for David after a night club encounter. Things start off sweet and simple with a couple of young highschoolers falling fast in love. Though what Nicole doesn’t know is David’s sketchy past and quick temperament.

After David quickly wins over the family, Steve. Nicole’s father (William Petersen) begins to suspect that something doesn’t quite add up about David. His nice guy attitude seems a bit suspicious leading to a series of elevated confrontations over his daughter and his relationship.

Fear (1996)” pretty much follows the formula of other like films such as “Unlawful Entry” (which is, the premise that the nice guy has mental issues). This would later be repeated in the film “The Boy Next Door”, which is identical to Fear in concept with the exception of the players involved.

Mark Wahlberg does a great job here, though I’m guessing that after this rather violent film he wanted to move far away from the villain-centric roles. Wahlberg plays the part of an obsessive controlling boyfriend who comes across initially sweet and then flat out turns into a dick. It doesn’t stop with Nicole and his relationship, as the movie escalates into a conflict with the whole family.

Now what I loved about this older 90’s film is that Mark Wahlberg appeals to the idea that every father fears about their daughter. Meeting and mixing up with the wrong crowd.

David is unrelenting in his passion and obsession with Nicole, though she quickly learns about David’s dark side. One that only gets more violent as the film progresses. This idea of an individual with a personality disorder would go to be repeated in a number of different ways in movie released, sometimes featuring the obsessive girlfriend in the antagonist role.

The film was directed by Rob Cohen who appeared to tap into a great concept and storyline on how relationships can turn toxic. The overbearing father element works equally great as a counterpoint to the troubled teen angst standpoint (that may have additionally served as a warning film to young girls who are gearing to step into adulthood).

Reese Witherspoon additionally proves she has the acting chops to take on dramatic roles. A part that was originally designed for actress Liv Tyler. Reese of course would soon find a well received career ahead of her with a long future history of comedy and dramatic roles ahead of her.

Points of interest:
The movie was filed in Vancouver, British Columbia. hence the great scenic scenes presented throughout.

The actor Todd Caldecott who played Gary Rohmer. Nicole’s high school boy best friend, would quite acting shortly after in 96, moving on to other things.

Mark Wahlberg’s audition was so spot on, that the director insisted he play the part.

In all, a recommended watch full of action and romance. The film is now available in a special double pack blu ray release from Mill Creek Entertainment which can be purchased here

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