At least it’s not a zombie film!

by Ed Blackadder

A young girl witnesses her father murdering her mother. After the father then accidentally kills himself, she’s left alone for days, and now as a grown-up, she has a phobia of the dark. Lesley Parker then becomes a doctor, and sets out to help others with phobic problems like her own.

After talking to Dr. Sigmund Freud in Paris, she returns to the US with Val Drakul and his two cousins to treat them, which include the yet untried group therapy sessions and also hypnosis. But while this is going on, a murderer has been ripping throats and drinking blood, always in the same country as Val happens to be visiting (and Val is a direct descendant of Vlad Tepes). Back home, Dr. Parker is asked to help an elderly woman (Carolyn Wickwire) who suffers from agoraphobia. The team are allowed to use the woman’s home to treat new patients, but after a claustrophobic sufferer dies in a locked coffin, things start to escalate and more of the phobics begin to die.

Directed by
Jon Keeyes
Erica Leerhsen, Chase Ryan Jeffery, Matthew Tompkins
Release Date
1 September 2013
Nav’s Grade: B-

When watching low-budget movies like Phobia, or any film of this nature that doesn’t have much in the way of money to spend, it helps to view it as a stage-play. This then allows us to ignore certain oddities, such as miss-matched wigs and beards, curious accents and poorly-spoken French. But as the film progressed, the whole off-centeredness of it all, actually grew on me and added to my enjoyment. It’s a quirky affair with faults aplenty, however it was still an enjoyable effort.

We had a couple of scream-queens, in the shape of the lovely Erica Leerhsen (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) playing Lesley Parker — a doctor with a secret past — then the underutilized and sexy Stephanie Rhodes (Friday The 13th) who played Elizabeth, the housekeeper. Rhodes’ part wasn’t big, but it was certainly very effective, as she posed with a look of smirking guilt in some nicely shot scenes.

Matt Moore’s Sigmund Freud was an amusing character, who I could just picture doing a stage version of Django Unchained, where he would be perfect in the role of Dr Schultz! Val Drakul was played by Chase Ryan Jeffery, and was the absolute double of Shiloh Fernandez in the movie Syrup. He really was. An eclectic bunch of actors who all performed well, and appeared to enjoy themselves, which ultimately came off well in the film.

The story itself was certainly good, however the final act started to get confusing as it went on, and could have done with a quick rewrite (if such an animal even exists) to get it flowing a bit better. In fact, what I think it needed was one or two less protagonists, but I’m not a scriptwriter. Anne Gibson done a decent enough job of penning Phobia which is her first script, and I hope not the writers last. I liked Jon Keeyes’ direction and in particular, Richard Clabaugh’s cinematography, which really helped elevate this modest production.

While Phobia won’t be for everyone, and some won’t be able to see past its less than stellar production values, it would be a shame to pass on an indie that’s striving for originality, something that’s sorely lacking in films in this day-and-age. Kudos to writer Anne L. Gibson and director Jon Keeyes for at least trying something different, and especially for not making a zombie movie … like most low-budget horror filmmakers seem to feel compelled to do!