I know it sounds cliche, but there really is nothing scarier than falling in love. The intimacy, the vulnerability… the visions of ghostly figures haunting your every night. Wait, what? Written by Aaron Burt, Philophobia (or the Fear of Falling in Love) finds successful podcaster Damien Booster as he is given an ultimatum by his budding girlfriend. Give up his bachelor lifestyle, make things official and meet her family for lunch, or she’s going to walk out of the picture. Confused and questioning his own self-worth, Damien has to face his worst fear, his past grievances and survive the deadliest game of all – love. The feature length directorial debut of Tyler Cole, Philophobia stars Aaron Burt, Emily Pearse, David Lengel, Carly Reeves, Marissa Pistone, Darren Keefe Reiher, Katie Keene, Casey Nelson and Christina Robinson. The film is currently available on Blu-ray, DVD and VOD courtesy of Gravitas Ventures. Here’s what I thought.
Shot under Tunnel Light Pictures by producers Tyler Cole, Aaron Burt, Tina Cabrone and Thomas Hennessy, Philophobia finds cinematography by Tom Meredit and editing by Tyler Cole. Gravitas Ventures is a top tier distribution company, so I wasn’t surprised to discover that Philophobia is quite impressive in terms of production value. I don’t want to use the term pretty, maybe the word modern instead, but my thoughts always fall back to “pretty.” Everything is just perfect. The lighting, the audio, the camera work, the semi-experimental elements, the mood and the performances by the very talented actors. Philophobia can be classified as an independent production, but it’s the furthest thing from low budget. If you’re wondering if your hard-earned dollars should be spent on this movie, I’d actually say yes, it is. It has beautiful use of lighting and filters, and the lack there-of, and that is extended to its eye-catching promo poster as well. Tyler and Aaron did an amazing job bringing this story to life with clear direction and a clever, two-sided path, but there’s just one big issue.
The promo poster and official trailer paint Philophobia as a horror film. In my honest opinion, I’d say it’s more of a dark romance drama or romance thriller. It’s more of a psychological journey with some genuinely weird moments and hallucinations/nightmares of ghostly/zombie-like people. That, to me, isn’t enough to justify calling it a scary movie. The ghosts are clearly a representation of his past mistakes and flings, and not spectral beings trying to take his life. The journey he goes through, that is rather unpleasant, is a common occurrence many people may experience while making a big decision. If you can punch a hole through any element that would classify Philophobia as a horror film, then it stands to reason that it belongs in another genre. The ghosts/creatures were pulled off well and have realistic special effects jobs, but they’re more physical representations of Damien’s struggle than anything else.
All things considered, I would 100% recommend Philophobia as a date night movie for horror fans trying not to gross out their partners with another splatterfest. I’d also recommend this movie to anyone looking for an original love story that hasn’t been beaten to death in cinemas. With outstanding behind-the-scenes work, a thematic narrative and a bunch of crazy, professional actors bringing it all to life, Philophobia ties the knot and walks down every aisle but the horror one. Final Score: 7 out of 10.