Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Philophobia: or the Fear of Falling in Love

For some people, relationships are more frightening than ghosts and monsters. Guys like Damien Booster are a major reason why. However, it is Booster who must face a long night of chills and nightmares in Tyler Cole’s Philophobia: or the Fear of Falling in Love, which releases today on VOD.

Booster has been gaining traction as a podcaster, but that hardly makes him famous in a town like Los Angeles. Nevertheless, he manages to impress Danielle Scott, who starts to develop feelings for him. She even invites Booster to meet her mother at brunch. Unfortunately, he reacts poorly, even by his standards. In fact, he butchers the moment so badly, she flatly breaks up with him.

Of course, Booster is pained by this, but his commitment-phobia is so ingrained, he unable to respond in any halfway appropriate manner. The visit of his old high school buddy Alan should distract him, but instead he acts like a self-absorbed killjoy, which he is. Granted, he has an excuse. Immediately after the break-up, Booster starts experiencing macabre visions or hallucinations revolving around relationship themes. There might even be some kind of spectral energy haunting him.

Philophobia is sort of like a Christmas Carol for bad break-up, but Booster is not explicitly visited by the Ghosts of Relationships Past, Present, and Future. Regardless, it is stakes out some surprisingly fresh genre ground. Old School horror fans might be disappointed the genre elements are not more prominent and graphic, but it could well be a function of Cole’s severely limited budget constraints (like Robert Townsend’s Hollywood Shuffle, Philophobia was largely financed with maxed out credit cards).

What might really surprise many viewers is the sharpness of the dialogue, written by screenwriter Aaron Burt, who also plays Booster. Sometimes this film is painful to watch, not due to ghoulish visuals, but because what the characters have to say cuts so deeply.

Burt looks more than a little like Chase Williamson and he freaks out quite convincingly, so it is easy to accept him as Booster. Arguably, he is put through the wringer to a greater extent than most characters in more conventional horror movies. David Lengel counterbalances him effectively enough as defiantly decent and unhip Alan. However, Darren Keefe Reiher, Carly Reeves, Marissa Pistone, and Katie Keene team-up to steal the film as the unhinged neighbor and the ladies they pick up in the bar, who make the lads’ intended night of booze and debauchery unpredictably chaotic and outrageously funny.

Perhaps the most inspired bits in Philophobia involve a character who must be inspired by The Shining. There is no question the film is rough, but hey, you try to do better with a 12-pack and a handful of Metrocards. The fact is, Philophobia is likely to resonate with a lot of viewers—and for those whom it does, I feel for you all. Recommended for genre fans interested in new talent and realistic relationships, Philophobia is now available on VOD platforms.