The title for “The Fear Inside” stems from a woman’s phobia about open spaces and her inability to step outside her large, isolated home in California’s Agoura Hills. Alan Jay Glueckman’s story and David Birke’s teleplay solve her agoraphobia with a combo of Grand Guignol and a Manson-like clan; it’s enough to get anyone out of the house.
Christine Lahti’s the bedeviled housewife whose husband David Ackroyd’s ankled and is trying to get their son Thomas Ian Nicholas to go along with him. Lahti, in a tellingly realistic scene bordering on a nightmare, makes an attempt to go out her front door; from there on in, the true nightmare begins.
Jennifer Rubin arrives to rent a room from Lahti, who naively and improbably accepts her without references. Her supposed brother, Dylan McDermott, turns up after killing a policeman. Lahti accepts him, too, even though there are TV reports on the unsolved murder of a Hancock Park woman and of the disappearance of the cop.
First really appalling revelation of Rubin’s character comes when she spots the cop’s dead body and squeals in delight. From then on the bloodletting is thorough, as director Leon Ichaso choreographs a succession of horrifying acts that build on each other. Grisly, gory and specific–a severed finger, wanton killing, psychotic acts, playful torture, erratic behavior all orchestrated to shock–“The Fear Inside” is a grim, grotesque extension of horror vidpix.
Lahti’s perf as the agoraphobic trapped by a couple of killers as well as by her own illness is as much a feat as an interp; it’s an effective portrayal of terror personified. The electric Jennifer Rubin turns the disjointed character into a complex, frightening psycho, while McDermott’s seductive, virile crazy stings with concentrated energy.
Camerawork by Bojan Bazelli and Gary Karr’s editing are top notch in the bloody marathon, which shows no subtlety or redeeming features. “The Fear Inside” revels in others’ agonies and in sleaze; thanks to language and violence , it begs to be rated. It could be a landmark cable offering for just that reason.