(it) wrote: "Alone in a strange place, I reach out my hand to find I'm reaching out to you!" Yeah, that song is kind of lame, but hey, at least that early taste of the era of musical mediocrity, the '90s, isn't as lame as this film, or at least that's what certain critics will tell you. Shoot, forget the typically annoyingly nostalgic critics, the late, great Stanley Kubrick himself would have said this film stank if you had asked him. Actually, he probably would have said nothing, because he disliked this film so much that he tried to keep people from seeing it, and quite frankly, I question why he went through all of the trouble, because you can't tell that this is him directing. Granted, it features glimpses of his very distinct style that no one else was doing at the time, and deals with lust, like plenty of his other films (He complained so much about his first film, but maybe Kubrick hated "Eyes Wide Shut" so much - like he should have - that he died), but it doesn't have a reference to killing in the title. He was really into putting "Killer" or "Killing" or whatever into the titles of his film early on in his career, though he was apparently a bigger fan of putting killing actually "in" his films, like this one. No one is safe in these neck of the woods... or forest, though the tension isn't entirely there, because although I like the film just fine, and certainly more than Kubrick did, there's no denying its blows to momentum. Stanley Kubrick was always known for being a stylish director, and when I say, "always", I really do mean, [u]"always"[/u], because if this film is nothing else, it is stylish, and pretty uniquely so, yet where this film's distinctive style could have caught your eye throughout the final product's course, like the style of Kubrick's following efforts, the newcoming Kubrick doesn't always gain the grip that he should and ostensibly wants to on his style, which slips into a bit of unevenness that is, of course, not to severe, but could potentially through off more observant eyes, though not as much as something you wouldn't expect from a film this short: slow spots. The film is never dull, or even all that atmospherically dry, as surprising as they may sound, considering that atmospheric dryness ended up becoming something of a trademark for Kubrick (Hey, it's hard not to like "2001", but come on, people, it's a little bit dull), yet the film will drag its feet and times, and make things all the worse with dragging in story structure that finds the film struggling to sustain its length of, not two hours, or an hour-and-a-half, or even an hour-and-a-half, but just barely over an hour, whose bloated moments could have easily been substituted with exposition. Again, the film hardly comes close to a modern minimum feature length, and covers a fair bit in its brief course, though not enough, because while certain areas of Kubrick's storytelling and the acting help in adequately selling the layers within this study on change in character, there is hardly, if anything extensive at all about this film's development. Being so undercooked, this film proves to be a bit difficult to get invested in, and sure, what is done right engages adequately, but more would be sold if this film took the time to give you background on its story and premise, even though no amount of development can fully excuse questionable spells in dramatic storytelling. This film's premise is rich with the potential for slipping into histrionics, and while the film isn't quite as cornball as you might expect, considering Kubrick's self-criticism, it is melodramatic, if not just plain cheesy at times ("If you have to hate me, please try to like me also"), forcing in reinforcements of intrigue that just end up diluting the story's kick more than augmenting it. Kubrick described the film as, "a bumbling amateur film exercise", and while the final product isn't quite that terribly messy, it is, in fact, easy to sense a lack of experience backing Kubrick's crafting of this undercooked, uneven and slightly cheesy affair, whose briefness leaves it to end up falling behind as kind of forgettable. Still, with that said, this film could have easily slipped into all out mediocrity, but doesn't, because as messy as this film is, Kubrick was clearly not always all that hard on this project, seeing as how inspiration is palpable here, particularly in the stylistic department. Like I said, Stan Kubrick hadn't quite gotten his now-iconic style down when he took on this film, and some of stylistic choices feel kind of offputtingly uneven, but when Kubrick does, in fact, get a good grip on his style, the result is nothing short of impressive, especially for a 1950s directorial debut film, with Kubrick, as cinematography, keeping lighting about as strikingly warm and crisp as he can with the technical limitations of the time, while delivering on a bit of his trademark intimate framing, which gives you a tight view of chilling visuals that subtly define the intensity within this subject matter. Even when he was starting up, Kubrick was pulling moves that no one else was pulling, and while this film's visual style isn't too exceptional, for the '50s, it does a lot to drive what effectiveness there is with this film, which is good, because this subject matter deserves to be effectively executed. Considering the final product's brief runtime and cheesy spots, there's not exactly a wealth of potential to this film's subject matter, but Kubrick, as screenwriter, tackles age-old themes of losing humanity during a time of wartime danger, and does so in a then-rather unique way that audaciously meditates upon anything from violence to sexuality, thus providing a decent bit of dramatic material, or at least decent acting material. If nothing else concerned me about this 1950s character drama, it was the acting, and sure, acting material isn't abundant enough for the performances to be terribly outstanding, and Paul Mazursky, as decent as he is, would have been more effective if he wasn't backed by such cheesy material, but on the whole, the performances prove to be more effective than expected, with charisma and layers that help in selling you on the changes in our characters about as much as they can, considering the limitations in exposition. Kubrick was good with his performers, even as far back as this film, and while the acting in this film isn't quite as strong as the acting in films like "Lolita", or "A Clockwork Orange", or "The Shining", it is commendable as a driving force behind what effectiveness there is to this dramatic thriller, which, of course, owes most of its relative success to the very man who grew to essentially disown it. As director, Kubrick could do only so much with this film, considering his limited experience, the limitations of the time, and, of course, the flaws in his script that are all but impossible to fully compensate for, so he doesn't carry this film too far, but what he does do right provides a bit of intrigue that gives us graceful insight into the depths of this film's subject matter, or at least enough liveliness to keep entertainment value up. The film's natural shortcomings and consequential hiccups do quite a bit of damage to the final product, and most of the strengths I just covered aren't especially impressive when it comes to general standards, but even when you take out of consideration what Kubrick was working against as a new filmmaker, there is enough entertainment value and intrigue behind this first taste of Kubrick's talent for it to prove fairly worthy of a relatively brief amount of time, even though you won't exactly walk away all that deeply rewarded. In conclusion, uneven moments in style prove to be offputting, though not as much as the unexpected padded moments, - which could have easily been substituted with the exposition that is ultimately in very short supply here - and melodrama that thin out the intrigue in this film enough for it to fall short as underwhelming, though not as underwhelming as I feared, as there is enough effectiveness to style and substance - anchored by decent acting and direction - for Stanley Kubrick's "Fear and Desire" to stand as often entertaining, sometimes effective and consistently decent, even though it's not the most booming debut for a man who would go on to become a legend in filmmaking. 2.5/5 - Fair
(mx) wrote: This isn't what I would call a terrible horror movie, it's just one that makes no real impression one way or the other. It just came and went without really doing much of anything. I don't know, there's just something about the film that felt off to me and it made this movie a little dull to watch. There's not much in the way of actual horror, or at least horror that was effective in adding tension or suspense to the film. It's, honestly, a film that exists simply for the sake of existing. Horror movies in this day and age need to do something in order to be able to stand out of the pack of millions of other movies like it. This movie does absolutely nothing that is different, instead borrowing from films like The Shining and The Others, in order to tell its dull and uninteresting story. There's hints of a good idea, but it's just drowned in a lifeless heap of a film. I will say that, at the very least, Lee Bane, who plays the lead, is a pretty solid actor and he does a fine job carrying this film past its dreadfully boring peak. He has solid chemistry with Georgina Blackledge, who plays his romantic interest. But, to be fair, the writing doesn't do these two any favors. It's not that it's poorly written, but it's just a little cheesy and corny. Like there's enough chemistry between the leads to make them, at least, watchable, but the dialogue makes me not want to see them together in scenes at all. The climax of the film is also something else. Like so poorly shot and framed. There's a 'fight' scene, you can't even call it that because it doesn't last very long, between the lead, whose name I honestly forget, and the villain of the film, who's wielding an ax, and it's just such a bad scene. It's just a terrible scene and it makes the movie even worse. Not a good movie, in the least. Some decent acting and a slight attempt at some atmosphere is not enough to save the film from its horrifyingly dull narrative that would put Ambien to sleep. A considerably worse movie when reviewing than it was before I started this. Bad movie and I certainly would not recommend it.