A solid Hitchcock-esque entry into the psychological thriller genre
FEAR OF RAIN (2021)
Childhood mental illness can be a landmine to tackle on film, as it must be handled realistically and delicately. Fear of Rain sometimes borders on hysterics and unfortunately uses the cliché trope of “love conquers schizophrenia,” but is still a solid Hitchcock-esque entry into the psychological thriller genre.
Castille Landon brings Fear of Rain to life with a light use of CGI and brilliant cinematography. Landon makes the viewers feel manic, to the point where you may question your own sanity, with his extensive use of close-ups and a combination of bright and somber colors to set the tone of the film. While it can be easy for films dealing with mental illness to feel cliché and overworked, Landon avoids these pitfalls by using toned-down horror film techniques restructured to avoid jump scares and instill fear.
Far too often we see visual hallucinations used as some kind of copout so we know the character has schizophrenia, while in real life, the phenomenon usually affects roughly 9% of patients. While Fear of Rain does use a heavy dose of visual hallucinations to drive the storyline, the writers emphasize that Rain’s (Madison Iseman) visual hallucinations are rare for schizophrenics, which is something that’s rather refreshing to see a film acknowledging.
However, the film has strong competition in its genre, with Rear Window and Disturbia obviously influencing the plotline of teenage schizophrenic Rain’s hyper focus on a neighbor she suspects has kidnapped a child. While the potential kidnapping plot line drives the film forward, the heart of the film is Rain’s mental health and how it affects her mother Michelle (Katherine Heigl), father John (Harry Connick Jr.), and potential love interest, Caleb (Israel Broussard). The familial dynamics are interesting, but the romantic subplot between Caleb and Rain can feel forced and unnecessary, with teenage coming-of-age undertones that sometimes feel out-of-place in the film.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Landon brings the most out of actors, and Iseman stands her ground acting alongside established actors like Heigl and Connick, providing a believable and (at times) heart-wrenching performance as the schizophrenic Rain. As stated before, the film sometimes falls into the common trope of “schizophrenics can be saved by love,” but it doesn’t shy away from showing Rain’s dependence on prescription medication and the very real issue that many people with schizophrenia face in real life of needing to find the perfect balance to keep their hallucinations at bay. Hiegl’s return to the big screen is nice, and she turns in a fine dramatic performance.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
As someone who used to live in the Tampa area, I personally appreciated the film’s setting and felt it captured the artsy bungalows you see in the area. The makeup effects are well done and combine well with the few instances of CGI.
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
Featuring steady sound quality throughout seems like a unicorn when watching horrors and thrillers, but Fear of Rain has no issues, even with drastic changes in pitch levels. The music is bright when it needs to be and dark when the time calls for it. There’s nothing that’s going to make you say, “Wow,” but nothing will pull you out of the film either.
Fear of Rain plays around with schizophrenia in a more realistic way than many films that attempt to tackle the subject matter. While the plot could have used a little more development to make it stand out from other films that deal with perilous voyeurism, Fear of Rain stands on its own well enough to be watchable.