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Movie Review

A Fantastic Fear of Everything

Reviewer Rating
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Director: Crispian Mills

Starring: Simon Pegg, Filippo Delaunay, Paul Freeman, Clare Higgins, Amara Karan

Duration: 100 minutes

Certificate 15A

1 of 5 Fear and loathing in the launderette
Fear and loathing in the launderette
2 of 5 Jack's dingy flat looks fantastic
Jack's dingy flat looks fantastic
3 of 5 Simon Pegg as a paranoid wreck
Simon Pegg as a paranoid wreck
4 of 5 Jack's housebound by an irrational fear of being murdered
Jack's housebound by an irrational fear of being murdered
5 of 5 Jack's jocks end up in the wrong hands
Jack's jocks end up in the wrong hands

Crispian Mills has a pretty impressive lineage in terms of British cinema. His mother is the actress Hayley Mills, daughter of the legendary John Mills and sister of actress Juliet (best known for her role in Billy Wilder’s Avanti), and his father is director Roy Boulting.

Hayley was a childhood star who featured in movies such as Whistle Down the Wind and The Parent Trap. Later, she appeared in notable 1960s kitchen sink drama The Family Way, which was directed by Roy Boulting. Boulting and his twin brother John established themselves in the 1950s while directing British classics such as Brighton Rock and I’m All Right, Jack.

Roy (who died in 2001) married Hayley Mills in 1971 and in 1973 they had a son, Crispian. When Crispian grew up he formed a band called Kula Shaker in the 1990s and enjoyed some success with them until they broke up in 1999. They reformed again five years later, releasing an album as recently as 2010.

More recently, Crispian became involved in the family business, and last year started filming his self-penned A Fantastic Fear of Everything. It’s been described as a ‘semicomedy’, and stars Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, etc) as Jack, a children’s author-turned-crime novelist whose research into the lives of Victorian serial killers has turned him into a paranoid wreck, housebound by an irrational fear of being murdered.

When Jack’s agent informs him that a mysterious Hollywood executive has taken a sudden interest in his script, Jack’s big break rapidly descends into more of a breakdown as he is forced to confront his worst fears and, eh, visits a launderette.

Sadly, the film is almost devoid of anything remotely funny, and the plot – with the slight exception of scenes in a restaurant and the much-feared launderette – just never takes off, despite an impressive turn by Pegg. The best line is probably when one character explains that he calls his Bowie knife ‘Dave’.

Jack’s dingy flat, where most of the non-action takes place, looks fantastic in a manky, Withnail & I kind of way, but manky’s about all this movie has going for it.

John Byrne

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