Web Series Review: Fear Clinic

Internet TV series are generally low budget shows made with enthusiasm and determination, and without any wish for reward.

Fear Clinic poster, copyright Fear Net.

Since these are non-profit and independent I’m going to be focusing on the positive here; reviewing good shows, recommending rather than condemning, and celebrating a fast growing viewing subculture.

Possibly the most popular genre, for whatever reason, is horror. There’s a lot of possible variation in it, from dense and absorbing to simple and stylish. It could be argued that style isn’t as necessary as plot, especially when roughly filmed, very low-tech works like Marble Hornets can be consistently terrifying. This isn’t fair, at the very least these shows are better for getting non-fans of the medium hooked. You need to be interested enough to be able watch shaky-cam on a laptop for an hour.

One of the more successful style based pieces so far however, is Fear Clinic.

Popular and critically celebrated (receiving the 2010 Streamy award), this is a neat, dark series. While style is placed firmly above substance, this isn’t noticeably detrimental.

There are five episodes, each one between five and seven minutes long. While there’s a slight overarching plot, it’s mainly a series of horror stories. While they all follow a fairly ridged plot formula, it’s taken in very different ways.
A psychiatrist treats his patients’ phobias using a sarcophagus that makes their fears real. It doesn’t work. That’s it. The plot isn’t so much bad as it is unimportant and underdeveloped. It works, so long as you keep your mind off it. Aside from psychiatrist Dr Andover (Robert Englund, famous for his iconic portrayal of Freddy Krueger) the characters are defined, if defined well and realistically, by their fear. The Entomophobic (you knew there was going to be someone scared of insects here) is as obsessed with them as she is terrified.

Despite its simplicity, the plot really works. It’s a simple, glorious horror setting which allows the designers to throw out horrifying scenario after scenario. And this is some pretty horror. In particular the makeup and physical special effects, which are consistently creative, absorbing and as horrible as horror should be. When CGI is used, which admittedly isn’t often, it’s predictably cheap looking but brief enough to stay un-distracting.

This is a good show. Could it be expanded into television length? Probably not, but watch it for the style and you won’t be disappointed.

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