Sunday, 17 January 2016

The Fear of 13 (2015)

"Original and really rather excellent"

Now here’s something a bit different, as British director David Sington’s impressive docu-drama comes to DVD courtesy of the Dogwoof label.
The opening caption tells us that after twenty years on death row, convicted murderer Nick Yarris made a final appeal, not for freedom, but to finally be executed. We are then introduced to Nick in what we assume to be his prison cell. Over the course of the next ninety minutes, Nick tells us his story, and it doesn’t go quite the way you might think.

It would be very unfair of me indeed to tell you anything else about this, but I will tell you that THE FEAR of 13 is absolutely worth watching. Essentially a one-man show, the clever direction, editing, and use of sound effects make it something a little more complex, and a lot more ambitious, than something you might see on the stage, but the essence of this piece is still one man telling his life story to the camera. That’s not to say the story isn’t full of characters, we just don’t get to see any of them, except through Nick’s eyes. In fact, he’s such a good storyteller if I had to liken this to anything it would be the prison stories of Stephen King like THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION or THE GREEN MILE. 

Dogwoof’s DVD comes with a forty minute Q&A with the director, and an interview with director and lead, as well as a booklet. Leave them all until you’ve watched the film or you’ll spoil it for yourself. 

The press release THE FEAR OF 13 it ‘a stylistically daring in experiment in storytelling... a monologue that is part confessional and part performance...with all the twists and turns of classic crime drama’. I’ll admit I was hugely wary when I read that, in this age of low-rent home-made found footage tat, but this film is anything but. A story well made and well told, by the time THE FEAR OF 13 had finished I was delighted that I had taken a gamble on it. You will be too.

David Sington's THE FEAR OF 13 gets its UK DVD release on the Dogwoof label on 25th January 2015

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