As I was watching Fear Pharm the old saying “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t” kept popping into my head. Why? Because. Because cinematographer (Apparition, Megalodon) turned director Dante Yore and co-writers Mark S. Allen (616 Wilford Lane) and Howard Burd certainly give the four high school students something far different from the wad of cash if they can complete a corn maze in under two hours.
Brandon (Houston Stevenson, A Predator’s Obsession), his girlfriend Wendy (Emily Sweet, Mount Adams, Castle Freak) his buddy Rustin (Chris Leary, Vindicate Me), and Rustin’s sister Melanie (Tiana Tuttle, The Final Level: Escaping Rancala) are bored and looking for something to do when they see a commercial for a haunted maze.
They don’t think twice about giving up their phones, or about the weird hand scanner that goes mental over Melanie. Maybe they should have, especially after their told as the 10,000th customer they get to try the special VIP maze and win a cash prize. When has an offer like that ever been legit?
Fear Farm opens with a prologue, so we know this isn’t a good idea. And we know Hershel (John Littlefield) and daughter Gemma (Aimee Stolte, Battle Star Wars) are not to be trusted. There are also several drone shots that show just how huge the maze is, Seeing that adds to the effectiveness of the scenes shot in it, we know they’re far from safety.
It also helps that for once the leads aren’t so obnoxious that I wanted them dead ASAP. Rustin is a bit grating but he’s tolerable. It’s a nice change to have characters that I actually cared about.
The film manages to work up a good bit of suspense as it moves into The Texas Chainsaw Massacre territory. Well, TCM with clowns and scarecrows. But there is a skin masked giant with a chainsaw among the murderous family members running this pharm, err, farm. That bit of creative spelling is related to the motive behind all the bloodshed. Unfortunately, Fear Pharm’s publicity gives it all away rather than just leaving you with a little tease. Which is a shame because the mix of down-home horror and high tech would have made a nice surprise.
It also allows for a fair amount of gore, though not as much as I was expecting. Most of it is quite convincing though. There’s also one death scene that caught me totally by surprise, kudos to the makers of Fear Pharm for that. Unfortunately, its impact is blunted by an all too predictable ending. Even with the amusingly nasty little sting this has at the end it’s tired and cliche.
A solid slasher effort for most of its length Fear Pharm is available to stream from Indican Pictures.