Rating: 3 out of 5.

Anthology horror is home to some of the genre’s biggest shocking surprises. Movies, like Tales from the Crypt and Creepshow, set an early golden standard that has endured for decades. One of the newest additions adopting this format is Phobias, a strange movie that tackles different fears in each vignette. Like any anthology, each segment differs in quality, and the wraparound takes big swings that don’t always land.

A trippy, visually enticing opening credits sequence immediately pulls you into the film. We follow five different patients at a government testing facility as a crazy doctor experiments on them. The backstories of these characters act at the film’s distinct vignettes. Captioned phobia pronunciations display on the screen before each segment begins to give the viewer a taste of what’s in store. This film delves into five specific fears: robophobia (fear of robots/artificial intelligence), vehophobia (the fear of driving), ephebiphobia (fear of youth), hoplophobia (fear of guns), and ateliophobia (fear of imperfection). 

Though the segments vary in quality, all have some merit to them. My favorite of the bunch was ephibiophobia, which deals with unhinged children seeking revenge on their father’s mistress. Anything with crazy, sadistic kids already has my attention. My least favorite one by far was ateliophobia. This segment has spotty acting and a hollow story that falls flat. The entire wraparound is messy and ambitious, but nonetheless, endeavors to weave the storylines together in a meaningful way. The connective tissue doesn’t feel like a mere afterthought of the script. I enjoyed this film quite a bit, even if it is far and away from being the best anthology movie I’ve ever seen. Portraying each phobia as a separate tale was clever and inspired. It’s a concept that will endear Phobias significantly, especially to the casual horror fan. Phobias opens in limited release and digitally Friday, March 19th.

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