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Deon Taylor delivers popcorn fun in Fear

After directing the comedic sequel The House Next Door: Meet the Blacks 2 in 2021, Deon Taylor returns to the thriller genre in Fear from Hidden Empire Film Group. Taylor also pens the screenplay in collaboration with John Ferry. Rom (Joseph Sikora) is a prominent best-selling novelist who gathers his friends in the remote Tahoe Mountains while staying at the "Historic Strawberry Lodge." The objective is to celebrate the birthday of his long-time girlfriend Bianca (Annie Illonzeh) whom he also hopes to propose to Bianca.

The friends include Rom's childhood aces Lou (Tip "T.I." Harris) & Russ (Terrence Jenkins), along with his spouse Megg (Jessica Allain). Also on the trip are nurse Serena (Ruby Modine), Rom's agent Michael (Iddo Goldberg), the investigative Benny (Andrew Bachelor), and single mom Kim (Tyler Abron).

After a year of living through a worldwide pandemic, the group is dealt another problematic hand in the form of a contagious airborne threat. What was supposed to be a much-needed getaway and celebratory weekend quickly turns into a waking nightmare. Their survival hangs in the balance as the truth about the historic lodge slowly unravels.

Since making his debut with 2010's Chian Letter, Deon Taylor has carved out a comfortable niche by directing horror and thriller films that equate to Lifetime/direct-to-home market movies on the big screen. I am not particularly bothered by Taylor's style since he delivers enjoyable popcorn flicks.

The film's first announcement made me assume it would follow in the footsteps of Agatha Christie's, And Then There Were None. The novel often sees adaptation into Ten Little Indians. Instead, Taylor and his co-writer dabble in the specific horror genre. Taylor was able to find a decent balance between the storyline and the death scenes as the characters are picked off one by one. Most viewers will pinpoint a moment in the first act as the catalyst for all the mumbo jumbo.

Regarding the acting, it was cool to see Joseph Sikora and Andrew Bachelor go against type. Sikora shot to fame portraying tough guy Tommy on Power. Here he doesn't lapse into full Alpha male mode but instead uses his brain to solve a problem. In comparison, internet personality and comedian Andrew Bachelor avoids falling into the comic relief stereotype. Finally, it was a delight to see Ruby Modine in another horror role following the Happy Death Day films.

The rest of the cast delivers the type of performance you would expect from a horror of this type. Kudos to T.I. for highlighting an expansive vocabulary in one of the film's funniest moments. While I didn't find the film particularly scary, Taylor does deliver another genre pic worth a one-time watch. In addition, the credits suggest a sequel.

Final Grade: B

Fear opens in theaters tomorrow


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