[Movie Review] Face Your Nightmares Inside Robert Englund’s ‘Fear Clinic’

As a fan of Robert Englund’s too often unsung acting talents far beyond his work as Freddy Krueger, I also fully enjoyed director Robert G. Hall’s Laid to Rest films, so I was pretty excited to see these two in action together in the new thriller Fear Clinic, which is out on Blu-ray this week from Anchor Bay.

I have never seen the web series that the film is based on, which might be the wrong way to enter this Clinic, but I was too excited to throw on that shiny new Blu-ray last night, and I was not disappointed.

Hall has worked on numerous iconic genre projects over the years, so he knows well how to craft a dread-filled scenario with desperate characters, often in the middle of the darkest and most confusing moments of their lives (and that’s before things get really weird), and it is all colored beautifully with almost comic book-like lighting and some pretty great acting.

Englund is awesome as Dr. Andover, a role he originated in the original 2009 FearNet series that ultimately blossomed into this feature film. It’s nice to see the once and forever Freddy Krueger allowed to show off his acting prowess, with little to no makeup for most of the movie.

We tend to forget that he is (and always has been) so much more than that glove, and its growling voice and burnt up face. In contrast, here at the Clinic, Englund wears his older man features well – even bravely in the nude – endearing Andover as not a mad scientist hellbent on power, but as a brilliant and conflicted genius genuinely trying to help people.

Of course, in trying to help people conquer their fears by letting them face the worst they can imagine within the “safety” of Andover’s greatest invention, the fear chamber, it allows a new evil to discover how to use the chamber as a door into our world.

  Fiona Dourif (Curse of Chucky) is the most fearless of the group of survivors of a mass shooting, each of which returns to Andover’s clinic when their individual trauma-induced phobias begin to re-emerge.

Thomas Dekker (The Sarah Conner Chronicles) is also exceptionally good as a recovering gun shot victim with a secret even he can’t remember.

  But perhaps the real star of Fear Clinic is the highly impressive visual FX, headed up by genre favorites Robert Kurtzman and Steve Johnson, who manage to still find new ways to disturb me with the striking and unforgettable sites of real world totally-imaginable-yet-utterly-disturbing nightmares, images that will stay with you for days.

There are some truly creepy sequences that will undoubtedly keep many of you awake at night, and the best part is that most of it is done with old school practical effects.

The fact that much of what is shown in the film is actually what the characters are seeing and sometimes hallucinating, the whole thing soon enough takes on a head tripping vibe that only adds to the surreality of the horror they (and we) see before them.

If your greatest fear (like mine) is that you could eventually fall into the black hole of your own mind, trapped within your worst nightmares, than you need to check into this Fear Clinic immediately and get ready to face your fear.

official rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars 

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[Movie Review] Face Your Nightmares Inside Robert Englund’s ‘Fear Clinic’