November 7, 2014

Le Fear II: Le Sequel (2015) - Because I'm Not Afraid To Review The Sequel To An Original That I Haven't Seen

actor Kyri Saphiris in Le Fear II: Le Sequel (2015)
Carlos Revalos (Kyri Saphiris) contemplates where it all went wrong in Le Fear II: Le Sequel (2015)

Le Fear II: Le Sequel (2015)
Not Yet Available, currently in post production
Director: Jason Croot
Stars: Andrew Tiernan, Kyri Saphiris, Seye Adelekan, Aiko Horiuchi, Victoria Hopkins

     After the disaster of Le Fear, director Carlos Revalos decides to make a sequel with a bigger budget. What could go wrong? Simply everything.

         When I watch a movie that depicts the making of a movie I find it surprising that any project - good, bad, or indifferent - ever actually gets made.  It seems as though trying to get dozens of individuals pulling in the same direction at the same time must be like trying to get a bunch of children with attention deficit disorder to bake a cake.  Chaos reigns supreme.  It's a miracle any movie shoot results in a coherent finished product, much less a good finished product.  Of course Le Fear II: Le Sequel is (I hope) exaggerating that filmmaking chaos for comedic effect.  Even so, I'm sure Le Fear II wasn't created in a vacuum.  One has to assume writer/producer/director Jason Croot knows whereof he speaks.

     Le Fear II: Le Sequel is a mockumentary about fictional film director Carlos Revalos (Kyri Saphiris) trying desperately to mount his biggest production yet, a horror movie called - you guessed it - Le Fear II: Le Sequel.  Having contributed $500,000 of his own money to secure a promised $10 million dollar budget from producer Dirk Heinz (Andrew Tiernan), Revalos sees his best efforts thwarted every step of the way by an ineffectual production staff from Nigeria led by the incompetent Efi Womonbongo (Seye Adelekan).  Location mishaps, interpersonal turmoil, and absurdly  substandard special effects ensue, threatening to derail Le Fear II long before it ever sees the light of a projector.

     First off: yes, there actually is a beginning to this franchise-in-the-making called Le Fear (2010), and no I haven't seen it.   From what I've read about Le Fear, it seems as though Le Fear II is a quasi-remake/sequel along the lines of something like Evil Dead II (1987).  Apparently, the original is somewhat difficult to find.  The Le Fear II Facebook fan page had posted a link to Le Fear on Vimeo, but the link is now dead.  That being the case, I'm forced to talk out of my ass and make assumptions.  So what else is new, right?  Maybe if I'm mistaken someone associated with the movie will be kind enough to correct me in the Comments section.  I do, however, know thanks to IMDB that both Le Fear III: Le Cannes and Le Fear IIII: Who Killed Carlos Revalos have already been announced, and I love the fact that a low-budget independent director like Croot appears to be indulging in a bit of the "universe building" that's all the rage with the big studios now.

     So is the Le Fear brand worthy of further installments?  Based upon my reaction to Le Fear II, I'd have to say yes.  Make no mistake - Le Fear II is clearly a low budget production lacking the polish of the big boys.  Fortunately, though, the nature of the story - an earnest but naive director struggling to make a decent low budget horror movie with limited resources - insures that the budgetary restraints on the movie itself only add an air of verisimilitude that might otherwise be absent.

     The performances are uniformly solid, as well.  Kyri Saphiris nails the hang-dog perseverance of a director trying desperately to soar like an eagle while surrounded by turkeys, but it's all those turkeys that are ultimately the movie's strongest asset.  A meta-movie like Le Fear II lives or dies by the authenticity of its performances, and I almost never felt as though I was watching anything other than a spy's eye view of an actual film production falling to ruin.  Seve Adelekan's inept and disingenuous producer Efi seems particularly plausible, as does Victoria Hopkins' fuck-anything-that-moves make-up artist Queenie.

      Of course, not everything about Le Fear II works as well as it might.  A number of scenes are marred by questionable music cues that seem incongruous to the on-screen action.  Additionally, transitions are mostly poor or absent, with many transitions from one scene to the next being nothing more than a simple graphic bearing the movie's name.  Consequently, it's often difficult to gauge the progression of time, and the story is almost entirely lacking in any sense of urgency.  I'd argue that something as simple as including some manner of looming deadline into the narrative - perhaps a pre-sold release date that has to be met - would help tremendously.  Those poor transitions could be replaced with interstitials showing dates and times, a ticking clock if you will.  That one relatively easy fix would smooth those rocky transitions, add a sense of urgency to the proceedings, and raise the stakes for the struggling director and his crew.

     A more concerted effort to contextualize some of the filming gags would help, too.  We never really know what Le Fear II (the production in the movie, that is) is actually supposed to be about since the director and crew only ever refer to the particulars of the story in broad, non-specific terms.  For example, I assume from everyone's response to his appearance that there isn't really supposed to be a witch doctor in the movie, but since the movie being made also involves aliens and vampires, who knows?  Efi ultimately explains the presence of the witch doctor, but the initial gag involving his seemingly arbitrary appearance during shooting would be funnier if we knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that he isn't supposed to be there.

     Finally, I would like to have seen the movie's resolution play out a bit differently, so here's the spoiler alert.  Director Revalos understandably believes he has presented his backers with an unsalable piece of garbage.  Somewhat inexplicably, producer Dirk Heinz loves it - presumably because he believes Revalos has delivered a horror movie product he can sell.  What if Heinz loved it for all of the wrong reasons?

     Revalos believes he has made a terrible horror movie that doesn't work, and he has.  But in making that terrible horror movie, he has inadvertently made a very effective spoof of the kind of horror movie he thought he was making.  Such a resolution would be a tip of the hat to those moments of unplanned Indy-shoots-the-swordsman style movie magic that happen by accident during filming.  Also, horror has a long history of directors who only made that first horror movie to get a foot in the door and then feel trapped in the horror ghetto for the rest of their careers.  As a horror fan, I would have enjoyed the delicious irony of a would-be horror director instead ending up being pigeonholed as a comedy director.

     Nitpicks aside, though, Jason Croot has made a broadly funny low budget flick highlighted by some well-realized performances that belie the movie's humble origins.  It's worth noting, too, that Le Fear II is apparently still in post-production, so it's entirely possible that some of the elements that didn't work for me may well end up rejiggered before the planned UK release date of April 11, 2015.  I'm at least impressed enough to look forward to the next entry in the Le Fear franchise, and how often can you honestly say that about a micro-budget independent?

Le Fear II: Le Sequel (2015) poster


  1. Look at you getting all these films screened prior to release. You better not turn into the Harry Knowles of Horror Film blogs!

    Great work getting the scoop on this movie. Now I need to wait to April to get a solid viewing to make some decent comments.

    In the meantime, and director/producer out there paying attention needs to screen more with Brandon. He's got a critical eye for film, and he will deliver an outstanding review. Have him screen your dailies if you want to make a decent movie!

    Keep up the great work and keep screening the screamers!

    1. I'm starting to see solicitations for reviews turn up in my email occasionally. I still have no interest in turning into "all reviews, all the time", but I've decided there's nothing wrong with taking a stab at it once in a while if the screener being offered looks like something I might be interested in. I'm still not super comfortable writing straight reviews, but I've decided there's value for me in challenging - and perhaps improving - my current skill set and comfort level.

      Thanks for your endorsement and encouragement, Carl!


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