Directed by Crispian Mills, Chris Hopewell
Written by Crispian Mills, based on the story by Bruce Robinson
Featuring Simon Pegg, Amara Karan, Clare Higgins, Paul Freeman
Ever since Shaun of the Dead, Simon Pegg has become an unlikely, quirky leading man. Sure he has had big roles in films like Star Trek but his lovable loser persona is the one that he is most associated with and that is front and center in his latest film (as both the star and Executive Producer) of A Fantastic Fear of Everything.
Based on the novella Paranoia In The Launderette by Bruce Robinson (writer and director of Withnail and I), film follows a former children’s author named Jack (Simon Pegg) that has recently also become a crime novelist. While researching the lives of Victorian serial killers, he unleashes a wave of paranoid fears that stem from his abandonment as a child. He develops a crippling fear of being murdered and is afraid of well…everything. Time is running out for his novel and his agent pressures him to return to writing successful children’s books about hedgehogs. Jack finally confronts his fears in the unlikely location of a laundry mat. Within the laundry, things don’t go as planned.
The first half hour takes place in Jack’s house, where he is basically a nervous wreck. This half hour has its funny moments, but the film really doesn’t take off until Jack finally heads out to the laundry mat to confront his fears. The story should have expanded upon the potential love interest between Jack and Sangeet (Amara Karan), but once the second half of the film gets rolling the characters really fall into place.
The film also boasts an impressive stop-motion animation sequence involving the hedgehog stories. It should be noted that keeping within the subtle, subversive quality of the film, one of the hedgehogs was clearly designed to look like porn king Ron Jeremy. This hedgehog sequence, a film within a film, is actually so strong that the audience at Toronto After Dark broke out in spontaneous applause.
A Fantastic Fear of Everything has horror film qualites, but it’s a comedy and it's quite funny throughout; Jack has a love for gangsta rap, while a sequence with a serial killer rocking out to Europe’s The Final Countdown is priceless.
The music chosen for the film is quite deliberate; 90s music fans might best remember director Crispin Mills as the lead singer in Kula Shaker. He also has an incredible cinematic lineage, being the son of Hayley Mills (The Parent Trap) and the grandson of John Mills (‘Pip’ in David Lean’s Great Expectations for you trivia buffs). A Fantastic Fear of Everything is Mills’ debut feature. Mixing the quirky style of Wes Anderson and Edgar Wright, he makes that elusive debut film that is both unique and accessible.