FTP: A Taste of Phobia (2018)

DECEMBER 16, 2022


I don’t wish them ill or anything, but I really have little to no interest in multi director anthologies, something I figured out about a decade ago when we were suddenly bombarded by them (V/H/S, ABCs of Death, etc). I mean, to be fair I don’t even love a lot of traditional, single-filmmaker ones like Creepshow, feeling that the time spent on a few short films could have been spent on a full narrative I can sink my teeth into (I don’t DISLIKE Creepshow, to be clear – but I rarely feel like rewatching it either; I’ve probably seen Diary of the Dead more in full, among Romero films). The only time I ever seem to get on board is when the stories are connected in some way (like Trick r Treat, or, going outside the genre, Pulp Fiction); otherwise while I will almost certainly like some of the segments, as a full viewing experience I almost always walk away unfulfilled. But after watching and disliking A Taste of Phobia, I poked around online to see if it was “just me”, only to discover that the (admittedly few) reviews I found were pretty much all negative.

The concept is fine, at least: the multinational team of filmmakers each present a short based on a fear. Some of the fears are kind of known (Hemophobia, or the fear of blood) or can at least be sussed out just from the name (Politicophobia is, you guessed it, fear of politics), but many are pretty obscure, such as Mageirocophobia (fear of cooking) and Partenophobia (fear of virgins), so at least they weren’t sticking to the usual stuff like clowns and spiders and things like that. In fact, I had to laugh that there’s a deleted segment available on the DVD, because my instant thought was “How bad is it that it couldn’t make the cut along with all this nonsense?” but it was Achluophobia, which is indeed a fear of the dark, so I’d like to think they cut it for being a little too basic.

And to its credit the tone is all over the place, which is, yes, part of why the movie didn’t work, but when you see a segment like Coprophobia (fear of feces), which is mostly devoted to a guy fighting a poop monster in his bathroom (and by fighting I mean pretending that a stuffed animal covered in guck is actually doing anything as he basically rubs it all over himself), you will be thankful that “be real gross!” wasn’t an edict from the masterminds behind the damn thing. There’s not a lot of genuine humor, but there are psychologically driven entries, a few that offer social commentary (including the aforementioned political one), freak-out types, gore for the sake of gore, etc. It’s even possible that some of the entries would have been a little more to my liking if I watched them on their own, though only Astrophobia (fear of stars) came off as legitimately good.

See, when you’re watching these things back to back, with only a vague wraparound story guiding them, it just becomes exhausting. Short or not, I’m still being introduced to fourteen worlds with fourteen sets of characters and fourteen different narratives, so even if they were all great – and they most certainly are not – it just wears my brain down trying to process all those introductions. And making matters worse is that many of the stories end without really resolving much and instantly go into the next one, leaving you no time to consider what you saw before the next one pops in. I just watched it and, gun to my head, I couldn’t tell you the order of the entries, though I do remember that the fear of hair (“Chaetophobia”) was first because I thought the hairless villain looked like the dude from Live terrorizing some girl. Gimme THAT movie.

So, yeah. Perfect pile movie, in that I can now trade it in for 19 cents after it’s been taking up space for years, which I probably could have done after watching the first couple but I sat through the whole thing anyway (the lone entry I enjoyed was right around in the middle, natch). What’s the fear of getting rid of a movie until you’ve seen it called?

What say you?


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