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{Movie Review} Bring Out The Fear

January 2, 2023

The first official review of 2023 may be the easiest watch of 2023. The latest feature from The Horror Collective arrives in just over 70 minutes, Take out the fear. The film continues a long line of tight nightmare movies from the upstart production company whose track record is nearly flawless. Take out the fear mixes elements of The Blair Witch with the claustrophobic setting of The Ritual. The result is a treatise on what it is like to be trapped. Trapped in a job. Trapped in a setting. Trapped in a cycle of addiction. Mostly, trapped in a relationship.

Take out the fear follows a couple struggling to mend their doomed relationship and become lost in a dangerous forest that refuses to let them escape. This festival darling will leave you questioning what’s real and what’s malicious trickery down to the very last frame. This final image will be as controversial as it is confusing.

Most of the film effectively uses the forest as a setting as wild as the relationship Rosie (Ciara Bailey) and Dan (Tad Morari) are trying to reconcile. The film effectively presents Rosie as a recovering alcoholic. Alcoholism appears to have been a catalyst for their relationship problems, as Rosie cheated on Dan while under the influence. The hike is meant to be a nice, relaxing way to assess the relationship, which Dan desperately wants to take to the next level.

The real horror begins when the couple get lost, only to find that their compass, phones, and watches no longer seem to work. The problems appear to be time and space itself as a monster with a wooden face and hands begins to stalk them. The creature’s design is one of the real standouts as the reveals come in short, jerky bursts that seem to only add to the lumberjack Pinnochio aesthetic that brings out the weirdness of the film. Every time one of our characters closes their eyes, the woods somehow twist their realities to force them apart.

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As the characters eventually and inevitably grow apart, the film pivots to shine a light on how toxic relationships can feel just as claustrophobic. Dan doesn’t seem like a villain, and I’m not entirely convinced the movie wants us to believe he is. Instead, writer/director Richard Waters wants us to interrogate the damage created when people want different things from their relationships and don’t communicate them effectively. More than communication, the horror of the film comes from the power imbalance that inevitably occurs when one person refuses to see the other as a fully autonomous human being.

The end of the film provides a heartbreaking yet terrifying climax as the wooden scarecrow begins to take over their realities. The end of the movie feels a little rushed, and while I tend to like ambiguous endings, there are too many other fake heads and red herrings for me to be fully satisfied with an ending that may or may not offer a real ending. I left the film not knowing what had happened but with cold sweats. Maybe that’s the point. Relationships are scary and any attempt to understand them is at our peril. Either way, I came away looking at my wedding ring in a completely different light.

Take Out the Fear opens today, and you can find it streaming on a number of different platforms. It’s a fast watch that will open your 2023 on the right foot. If nothing else, it will very quickly scare you out of your New Year’s hiking resolution. You can find all the release details on the official Bring Out the Fear website. It comes out today.

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Tyler Unsell

Tyler has been the editor of Signal Horizon since its inception. He is also the director of Monsters 101 at Truman State University, a course that combines horror movie criticism with survival skills to help middle and high school students learn critical thinking. When he’s not watching, teaching, or thinking about horror, he’s the director of debate and forensics at a high school in Kansas City, Missouri.

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