Fear of Rain (2021) Brings Depth to Traditionally Maligned Characters
Title: Fear of Rain
First Non-Festival Release: February 11, 2021 (Digital/Streaming Platforms)
Director: Castille Landon
Writer: Castille Landon
Runtime: 109 Minutes
Starring: Madison Iseman, Katherine Heigl, Harry Connick Jr, Israel Broussard
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
Rain (Madison Iseman) struggles to cope with her schizophrenia and is warned that she will be institutionalized should there be even one more incident of a meltdown. Her parents (Katherine Heigl, Harry Connick Jr) are at their wits end with helping her avoid that fate. Things worsen when Rain becomes convinced that her next-door neighbor and teacher Ms Dani McConnell (Eugenie Bondurant) is hiding a kidnapped child in her attic. The only person who believes her is Caleb (Israel Broussard), a new kid at school who Rain isn’t even sure exists. Rain feels it is her duty to save the girl next door lest she perish at the hands of Dani.
Gimmicks aside, Fear of Rain is a solid character study that blends real life horror with a more dramatic flair.
The story behind Fear of Rain updates Rear Window with a more subdued and intrapersonal approach. It’s predictable down to the big reveal, but that doesn’t stop it from being an enjoyable ride. The audience is asked to suspend disbelief one too many times, especially considering how few chances Rain has to prove herself to others. By the third act, one must start on at least their second hand to count the number of times Rain could have possibly derailed her treatment and subsequently ending the movie right then and there. It lessens the feeling that stakes mean anything here.
Fear of Rain is very careful to tee up the “is this real or not” narrative every chance it gets. After every interaction, the audience is left wondering if it truly happened. While this does raise the stakes, it gets tiresome when there are several people Rain interacts with that fit the bill. The film should be applauded for consistently honoring the reality but it is fair to scold it for overusing the tactic. Clever cuts and camera angles help show the divide between Rain’s experiences and other characters without seeming cinematic or choppy.
Regardless, Fear of Rain does a great job at not exploiting Rain’s illness while still showing the horrors of schizophrenia. While plenty of characters feel distrustful or averse to Rain, the audience is given a deep dive into what life for her is like. It’s a delicate balancing act between depicting the terrifying auditory and visual hallucinations and the more mundane deceptions of the mind. Rain is still given space to have flaws unrelated to her ailment, at least from a narrative setup.
Capable young actors paired with household names makes the film have a strong foundation for its otherwise generic plot. Madison Iseman takes the brunt of the more emotionally intense work and Israel Broussard is as charming as ever. Their chemistry is palpable and the relationship between Rain and Caleb, along with Rain and her father make for just as interesting of a story as the kidnapper living next to her.
The biggest problem with Fear of Rain is its restraint. Its second act drags considerably making the finale feel long overdue. Repeating the themes of disbelief and self-doubt impedes that narrative from progressing along with its central character. Once it regains its footing, Fear of Rain course corrects appropriately. In the end, the film has a decidedly fine feel to it. Competent filmmaking and solid performances alone, however, can’t raise the narrative to a more compelling level.
It isn’t a film that will set everyone’s hearts on fire, but Fear of Rain is a perfectly okay drama horror hybrid that is light on scares but heavy on narrative. Bolstered by strong performances from its leads to combat the bloated story, it works as the perfect introductory horror film for folks interested in testing the genre waters without too many big scares or viscera. Horror fans may find it plodding and derivative, but if approached with an open mind it can be an enjoyable enough experience. There’s nothing to fear here and if you’re streaming queue is running empty, it is a fine addition to a midafternoon movie marathon.
Overall Score? 5.5/10