PHILOPHOBIA: OR THE FEAR OF FALLING IN LOVE / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR: TYLER COLE / SCREENPLAY: AARON BURT / STARRING: AARON BURT, EMILY PEARSE, DAVID LENGEL, CARLY REEVES / RELEASE DATE: NOVEMBER 12TH (US)
Dani (Pearse) and Damien (Burt) got off to a good start in their relationship. Well, she winded him with a blow to the chest in a misunderstanding, but they got together so that’s something. Sadly, seven months in, and she’s keen for him to show more affection. It’s something he can’t bring himself to do, and she leaves. Damien’s old school friend, Alan (the Ross-alike Lengel), has arranged to visit but instead of showing him the sites of Hollywood, he ends up drawing him into a twisted nightmare. Unable to focus on anything but Dani, things spiral out of control as his mental state deteriorates.
Philophobia is not your typical horror film. For the most part, it plays like a romantic comedy, but there’s an eeriness throughout that keeps it from descending to predictable levels. Damien is haunted emotionally and unable to verbalise how he feels, or even show affection in public, which manifests in some nightmarish visions. Nothing too terrifying, but the simple makeup and effects do provide some jolts, in a Carnival of Souls sort of way.
It’s ably directed, and even in the climax doesn’t resort to schmaltz. It’s an expansion of a 2015 short film, and the script - by star Aaron Burt - is entertaining and constantly surprising. The dialogue is natural, even in the most outlandish moments. Thankfully, it avoids descending into slapstick to get laughs, instead it relies on the smarts of the characters and situations. Burt is a likeable lead, breathing life into the character of Damien, even though we can’t help but feel everything he’s going through has been brought on by himself.
This film could be the ultimate film to watch for those with a fear of commitment, you’ll either understand where the main character is coming from, or will feel so uncomfortable that you’ll be running for the door.