Directed by Rory Douglas Abel
After the death of his wife Jane, Jonathan MacKinlay develops agoraphobia, afraid that if he leaves his house, something bad will happen. After a year living in his house without venturing outside, he begins to suffer from violent and disturbing visions. Are they nightmares, hallucinations or could they be in fact real?
Claustrophobic thriller PHOBIA combines haunted house elements with the frightening aspect of mental breakdown to create a tense atmosphere. With ghosts of his dead wife, one that looks like the woman out of Insidious albeit with spider legs sprouting out of her back, and a young man roaming the hallways clutching a knife, it’s no wonder MacKinlay is terrified. His phobia of the outside world leaves him trapped inside the home he inherited from his parents, but what’s inside his home could be a lot more dangerous… that is if it is even real at all.
Friend Taylor (Andrew Ruth) and grocery girl Bree (Emma Dubery) are the only real faces MacKinlay sees as they visit his home on a regular basis. His psychiatrist Dr. Edmondson (Peter Gregus) also makes home visits in emergencies and prescribes him with a variety of drugs to help him relax and sleep. With his own guilt and depression over the loss of his wife (Sarah Schoofs), MacKinlay’s experience inside the home is a hard one to decipher as reality, illusion and the supernatural seem to blend into one.
Though very little happens inside the home, Michael Jefferson’s intense performance as likable MacKinlay carries the film and keeps the momentum flowing. The house and its “occupants” become MacKinlay’s enemy as he fights them and himself to seek the truth. Even when he thinks he’s won, they’re back to haunt him, be it as a spectre, messing with his computer or more illusions. Is any of this real anymore or has MacKinlay had a complete mental breakdown?
Fans of indie cinema may be interested to know that Elias, responsible for one of the unnerving movies I’ve ever seen, GUT, is a producer of PHOBIA. So if you enjoyed that movie, then you’ll probably enjoy this one too as their style is quite similar even though the subject matter is different.
PHOBIA isn’t so much a scary film but rather a creepy one. You never know which direction the film is going, and as the movie progresses even the viewer begins to question what is reality and what isn’t, just like MacKinlay. The feeling of being trapped inside the house with these visuals intensifies as time goes on, with increasing violence and feeling of maliciousness that would drive even the most sane person to crack. By the end, this feeling is so heightened, not even the viewer knows where to look anymore.
A slow-burner, PHOBIA is ideal for fans of psychological horror with a twist of the supernatural.