Phobias is an interesting take on the horror anthology. The overarching narrative is about five patients at a government testing facility. Each patient has an extreme phobia they live with. This is the foundation for the film. The five phobias (robophobia, vehophobia, ephebiphobia, hoplophobia, atelophobia) are represented in each of the segments.
Anthologies are mainly judged on two factors. The quality of the individual pieces and the overall story. Sometimes the overarching tale is little more than window dressing to get from one story to another. Still, there has to be a thread to tie it all together. It is also accepted that some of the segments will be stronger than others. But if one of the parts is too weak, it can negatively impact the whole thing.
Phobias is a case where the main story is the weakest part of the film. There is an attempt at connecting all the tales, but it does not work very well. The main issue is the stories are all so varied. Creepshow is able to get away with this since they are stories from a comic book. It does not work so well when things seem to be in the same world.
Thankfully, the individual parts are very well done. The overall plot of the movie is a doctor’s attempt to weaponize fear. This is a neat idea that does not work out as well as planned. Phobias excels in showcasing the horror the individuals are feeling. Even though the larger narrative does not bring together the smaller parts, the theme is captured well due to segments.
The acting in Phobias is consistently good. The film is about more than just providing scares. The first short “Robophobia” sees Leonardo Nam show off his dramatic range. Macy Gray is also fantastic in her role. Sometimes the acting can hinder anthologies. The different stories can end up preventing any tone from being established. The well rounded cast helps accentuate the already strong writing.
It can be hard for a horror anthology to stand out today. Especially since there seems to be more anthology television series announced every day. Phobias uses its great premise and thrilling segments to overcome its lackluster story.
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