Pulpmovies Cult Film Reviews
Fear of the Dark is a sequel – of sorts – to The Tenement. However, whereas the focus of The Tenement is the genesis of the Black Rose Killer – a black clad serial killer who leaves a single black rose with each of his victims – Fear of the Dark deals with the consequences of his actions.
The film starts with the discovery of the Black Rose Killer’s first victim on New Year’s Day, 1981 and then follows the killer’s eight month rampage which culminates in August at the home of seven year old Alice Walker.
Although her parents are both killed in the attack, Alice survives and the Black Rose Killer disappears as suddenly as he’d arrived.
We then jump forward twenty years, to August 2001.
Alice (Rosemary Gore) has spent much of the intervening time in and out of foster homes and psychiatric hospitals. Even though she is now living independently, in a shared apartment, she is still receiving psychiatric treatment, is still suffering from nightmares and as still terrified of the dark.
She’s also convinced that she has some sort of psychic link to the killer and that he’s going to come back for her
Steadily, Alice becomes increasingly paranoid, pushing away the few people that have managed to get close to her – Karen (Vanessa Edwards), her friend and flat mate; Dr. Fisher (Herb Smithline), her psychiatrist; and her boyfriend, Michael (Mike Lane), who wasn’t going to win any compassion awards even at the start of all this – until she is finally alone and trying to cope with a killer that has returned.
And there is a killer out there. But who – or what – he is or why his killings have started now is very effectively buried in a complex and fascinating story, until the truth is finally revealed in the final scenes.
And, as with all good whodunits, it’s all so obvious once you have the benefit of hindsight.
The bulk of the film is spent with Alice, whose state of mind adds immensely to the deliberate blurring of what exactly is going on. This is also a good point to mention Rosemary Gores incredibly compelling performance as a woman on the edge of a nervous breakdown, increasingly isolated and less and less able to distinguish between reality and her increasingly frequent delusions. Although not perfect, she carries her role - and the film - magnificently.
The soundtrack also deserves a mention for effective simplicity. It’s constructed around a very simple omnipresent theme that is effectively used to rack up and maintain the tension throughout the film.
At the end of the day Fear of the Dark is an excellent horror film about fear, paranoia and insanity and one that will hold your attention from the opening scenes to the closing credits.