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Le Fear II: Le Sequel – Review

 
 
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Release Date: 11 April 2015
 
Director: Jason Croot
 
Writer: Jason Croot
 
Cast: Andrew Tiernan - Aiko Horiuchi - Shona McWilliams
 


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Posted November 3, 2014 by

 
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Le Fear II: Le Sequel – Review

In the land of micro-budget movies, invention and cleverness go a long way. They have to. Filmmakers cannot rely on the settings or props or lighting they may envision. They certainly cannot rely on modern special effects. In Le Fear II: Le Sequel, British writer/director Jason Croot, puts these inherent disadvantages to good use. The “sequel” designation references Croot’s first Le Fear movie, made in 2010 about Carlos Revalos, a film director as ambitious as he is talentless. I have not seen Le Fear, and part of me wants to pretend it does not exist. Somehow, a director like Carlos appearing in a sequel to a non-existent original seems to fit into the absurdist world that Croot creates.

The plot is simple. Carlos has a burning desire to make a terrifying horror film. But he has no money. So he gets support from a mysterious South African financier who seems turned on by the prospect of lots of blood and gore. The financier has connections in the burgeoning world of Nollywood, the mostly micro-budgeted films being cranked out of Nigeria, and so they engage a producer and set out to make history.

What follows is a series of mostly funny mishaps. There is no studio set, as Carlos has been promised. Instead, there is an old caravan situated just off a busy street where traffic noise is a constant problem. The terrifying horrors Carlos was expecting are blow-up dolls and hand-made space ships. The cast and crew include strippers, nymphomaniacs, and witch doctors. Through it all, Carlos still believes he can make his movie. He has to. He has mortgaged his house for this.

The best thing Croot has going for him in Le Fear II is a very talented cast, headed by Kyri Saphiris as Carlos. He plays Carlos with the earnest-yet-oblivious twinkle of a child. He wants to do something great and seems totally unaware of what is required to accomplish it. He is sad throughout most of the movie, yet almost always hopes for a better next shot. He has the droopiness of a Basset Hound, which makes him as loveable as he is pathetic.

Seye Adelekan is the major thorn in Carlos’ side. He plays Efi, the young producer who has been contracted to provide for all of Carlos’ needs. Efi, who has a phone seemingly attached to his ear, can talk his way out of anything, and like any good producer always answers “no problem” when huge problems crop up. He and Carlos are equally incompetent, but Efi seems to take it in stride a lot more easily. Both Saphiris and Adelekan have to be careful not to cross over into broad farce and they both manage to inject just enough humanity into their exaggerated characters to keep an audience involved.

Maybe the best testament to the ensemble acting comes around the midpoint when the two young lover character in Carlos’ movie need to film a romantic scene (in the caravan.) This is designed to be the one scene in the movie that actually works – that lets Carlos see a glimpse of what he might possibly create. And the actors pull it off. It is a good scene – until the inevitable catastrophe strikes.

Croot’s screenplay is by no means brilliant, but it remains funny throughout and sticks to the bare bones of its comic premise. Carlos asks for something. Efi promises – “no problem.” And then, of course, “problem.”

That structure begins to wear thin after a while, and at ninety minutes, Le Fear II may run about ten minutes too long. Croot mostly gets around the lack of production values by making the movie look cheap by design. There is only one place in which the micro-budget really hurts. In the very first scene, Carlos is supposed to be meeting the money man in his office. The office is a dark brick wall with minimal decoration. This would have the place to really show luxury and money if it could have been managed. Barring that, an opening in which the money man might insist on meeting Carlos while he takes his morning jog in the park might have worked better. (Simply seeing Carlos try to jog would be funny enough.) After that opening scene, most of the remainder of the movie is supposed to look cheap and stingy, so the micro-budget ceases to be a problem.

The only other substantive complaint I have about Le Fear II grows out of the fact that all three Nollywood characters (Afi and two crew members he has hired) are treated in broadly comic terms. This is mitigated by the fact that though Efi is a con man and a liar, he is clearly much smarter than Carlos. In fact, everyone is smarter than Carlos. But several of the other characters (Carlos’s script girl and cinematographer) do have some self-awareness and intelligence. It would have been a nice touch to allow one of the Nollywooders to have similar self-awareness.

But in the end, it seems a little crass to complain too much about broad comedy, since Le Fear II is, in fact, a broad comedy. That Croot has been able to fill it with such absurdist diversions as a script supervisor who does not speak English and a Witch Doctor character who seems more interested in product placement than in scaring anyone, keeps the movie fun and funny throughout.

 

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Jonathan Eig
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