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There's nothing scary enough about 'Phobia' to warrant even a rental.

DVD Review: ‘Phobia’ (2013) – Directed by Rory Abel

As if being stuck in a haunted house wasn’t bad enough, imagine if you literally couldn’t leave. In co-writer/director Rory Douglas Abel’s low-budget Phobia, our main character suffers from agoraphobia, which makes dealing with the ghostly shenanigans impossible to escape. On top of that, he may have a case of schizophrenia from grieving over his recently-deceased wife. Talk about a claustrophobic setting if there ever was one.

Is Abel up to the task of keeping our interest piqued for 84 minutes? Most of it. Unfortunately, the cast is a wishy-washy blend of amateurs that eventually breaks the suspension of disbelief and the tension. For those interested, Phobia is now available on DVD from Image Entertainment.

Phobia, Rory AbelJonathan (Michael Jefferson) is so distraught over his wife’s death, he can’t leave his apartment. His therapist, Dr. Edmondson (Peter Gregus), makes house calls to help Jonathan deal with his agoraphobia and grief. His friend Taylor (Andrew Ruth) brings him a weekly load of groceries and DVDs to help him alleviate the boredom of only being able to work from home as a stenographer.

To make matters worse, Jonathan starts having visions of a spooky dead woman (Sandra Palmeri, credited as “The Shade”) and his dead wife. Things start to go from bad to worse when Taylor goes on a trip and leaves him in the hands of Bree (Emma Dubery), who eventually warms him up to drinking and smoking pot. Let’s just say, things do not get better for poor Jonathan, and his visions become stronger and possibly more deadly.

Abel doesn’t really bring anything new to the genre with Phobia, aside from at least a new reason for someone to be stuck in a haunted house. Along with co-writer Matthew Barnes, they simply take the agoraphobia and put it through the motions of every haunted house movie we’ve seen before.

The cast is a mixed bag; few of the actors seem to be trying as hard as they should. Thankfully, Jefferson at least makes Jonathan a sympathetic character, even if the final twist makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. The DVD’s special features include a “Commentary with Producer Elias Ganster and Director Rory Abel,” which has way more energy than their film does. Also included are “Deleted Scenes” (1:21) and a “Concept Art” gallery.

If this had been released back in the glory days of VHS, the cover art alone would make me want to rent the film, but in the days of streaming and digital downloads, there’s nothing scary enough about Phobia to warrant even a rental.

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About Cinenerd

A Utah based writer, born and raised in Salt Lake City, UT for better and worse. Cinenerd has had an obsession with film his entire life, finally able to write about them since 2009, and the only thing he loves more are his wife and their two wiener dogs (Beatrix Kiddo and Pixar Animation). He is accredited with the Sundance Film Festival and a member of the Utah Film Critics Association.

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One comment

  1. This movie sucked. You could tell it was fake, nothing scary about it. half of it didnt make sense, no explination of random characters. on back cover states identical days where they turn on him. Nothing in the movie portrayed this. It felt like i was watching a spoof movie making fun of phobia rather than provide a realistic insight and fearful underatanding of the phobias the director might havr intended on portraying. The actors certainly did not help the presentation either. The actly was barely sincere to the job.