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*Also starring: William Petersen, Amy Brenneman, Alyssa Milano, Christopher Gray, Todd Caldecott, Tracy Fraim, Gary John Riley

Review by Andrew Hicks
1½ stars out of 4

This is every fatal attraction thriller you've ever seen, only a few years earlier. Created with non-discriminating teens in mind, FEAR is an inane, laughably bad movie with little originality, even in casting. 1993's THE CRUSH starred a then-unknown Alicia Silverstone, this one stars the beautiful and precocious Reese Witherspoon, who is a cross between Silverstone and Candace Cameron from "Full House." This time, the psycho villain role goes not to the leading lady but to "Marky" Mark Wahlberg. And you wondered if there was any redeeming value in FEAR...

Reese's life is typical -- superficial shopping and school work. She spends a lot of her time arguing with her father. When she shouts in the opening scene that she has "to ask permission to breathe" and storms out of the room, Dad replies sarcastically, "Does this count as quality time?" No, and it definitely doesn't count as quality writing. This exchange establishes early on two vital components of the movie -- horrendous dialogue and bad acting.

Who better to contribute to the bad acting than B-movie queen Alyssa Milano? She plays Reese's best friend, already skilled in the ways of sex with no-good older men. Alyssa's philosophy on relationships is, "It's power." Reese replies, "It's nuts," to Alyssa's response, "It doesn't feel good to be wanted?" None of us have any idea what she's talking about; after all, she hasn't been wanted since "Who's the Boss?" went off the air.

Reese soon meets Marky Mark at the local teen nightclub, his opening line to her being, "Hey... you're not dancing." She could have sent him packing with the response, "You're not charting," but she instead revels in his advances because it's power, and it feels good to be wanted. She talks and kisses him until two in the morning, by which time her step-mom is yelling at her and she's shooting back sarcastic responses. Dad's out of town on a business trip, but Marky Mark's ready to charm him and the rest of the family (including the dog) when he gets back. It's such a good vibration, it's such a sweet sensation...

Alyssa is also ready to charm Dad when he gets back, with some of the most ridiculous double entendres in movie history. She asks him to come to a carnival with her, saying, "You could ride the bumper cars... You could do that thing where you throw the ball at something and maybe win me a stuffed animal." Luckily, that subplot never goes anywhere, but what is immediately established is Dad's mistrust of Marky Mark. He can't put his finger on what he doesn't like about Mark (he's just so... marky) until he finds a used condom wrapper in his daughter's bedroom.

Yes, Mark is hot for Reese's peanut butter cups, and takes her virginity during another of Dad's business trips. (That guy's got to find a new job!) The PG sex scenes in this R-rated movie are teen love at its finest, as a remake of the Rolling Stones' "Wild Horses" plays and this sexy dialogue exchange takes place.

MARK: Do you want me?
REESE: Yeah.
MARK: Tell me you want me.
REESE: I want you.
MARK: Yeah.

The honeymoon is soon over, though, as Marky Mark shows his violent streak and threatens various members of the family. FEAR seems at least twice as long as it is, the various plot twists and developments apparent to most audience members a mile away until. There's not much good about FEAR, especially since every other made-for-video movie nowadays features this plot with a lot more sex thrown in. This movie should have never even made it to theaters. Just ship it directly to Cinemax and save us some time.

Copyright 1996 Andrew Hicks

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