A Problem with Fear Gary Burns

A Problem with Fear Gary Burns
With 2000's Waydowntown, director Gary Burns scrutinised the suffocating world of office work by examining the neuroses of a group of employees who, given the depiction of interconnected architecture in downtown Calgary's business district, make a wager about who can avoid the outdoors the longest. While it was an interesting concept that occasionally made for humorous subject-matter, ultimately the film lagged behind the dozy performances of its cast and failed to say anything truly thought-provoking about cubicle life. Corporate Calgary gets the evil eye again with Burns' latest film, A Problem With Fear, a far more enjoyable film than his last due more to its energetic cast than its rather flimsy, unrealised plot. Fear centres around Laurie Harding (Paulo Costanzo), a young man who is afraid of virtually anything that the general population might take for granted: riding elevators and escalators, crossing the street, pasta (or any meal involving red sauce) and, as his girlfriend Dot (Emily Hampshire) knows all to well, commitment. As Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine recently emphasised, fear has seriously altered trends in consumption in the last few decades and North Americans in particular seem to be clamouring for security against "the unknown." Burns picks up on this discussion point by creating the satiric Global Safety Inc., a corporation that manufactures danger-detecting wristbands and Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) that are triggered by their user's fear and alert the authorities. After a joke at Global Safety goes awry, employees report a "computer glitch" to a senior executive who also happens to be Laurie's sister, Michelle (Camille Sullivan), and terror soon grips the city. It soon occurs to Laurie that people seem to be dying from the things that he is most afraid of and resolves to confront his own fears for the betterment of society as a whole. The featureless DVD fails to offer any further insight into Burns's motivation for writing such a story, or explaining his rationale for the film's non-existent climax. In the end, Fear offers a slight critique of corporate power that is driven by the admirable performances of Costanzo and Hampshire. Plus: Trailer. (Lions Gate)