Fear of Rain
Thrillers have always asked viewers whether they can trust their eyes, ears and minds, whether amid the supernatural or the grisly crimes that shatter a comfortable reality and present a frightening new one. In bright young writer and director Castille Landon’s latest entry into the genre, teenage title character Rain (Madison Iseman) faces a rather different challenge to her perceptions, having been diagnosed with schizophrenia.
Fear of Rain opens with Rain being dragged by a mysterious figure, before the scene quickly returns to the hospital bed where she is recovering from a violent episode. Coming home, her illness has taken a particular toll on her parents (Katherine Heigl and Harry Connick, Jr), who, as one would expect, struggle to balance concern for her wellbeing and possible institutionalisation with their desire for her to live a normal life.
Normality though, is not something Rain finds at school, where her old friends have gone full Mean Girls and ditched her in case they catch “crazy”. The only classmate who doesn’t shun her is geeky new boy Caleb (Israel Broussard), with whom she forms a typical teen movie oddball bond.
The film’s strength, other than impressive central performances from Iseman, Connick, Jr and Heigl, is Landon’s use of shifting, half-obscured POV shots to give an idea of Rain’s unstable viewpoint. They are much more convincing than its fantasy sequences, and help viewers feel her lack of certainty as she attempts to grasp the central mystery: the teenager’s belief that her neighbour and schoolteacher (Eugenie Bondurant) may be up to something downright evil. The edgy camerawork and understated but occasionally manic Iseman keep the audience guessing whether Rain is jumping at her own shadow or right to think all is not well – but she is not believed, due to her illness.
Fear of Rain isn’t a particularly deep exploration of schizophrenia, nor is it a genuinely unnerving thriller – meaning it’s a film that doesn’t quite hit the potential of its premise. Even after it presents twists that steady the lens through which Rain’s reality is viewed, it’s not entirely clear what the payoff is, beyond understandable empathy for her. Yet that empathy is not to be sniffed at. This is not a gratuitous treatment of mental illness or neurological difference, nor is it without merit as a discombobulating mystery. Landon shows enough promise at the helm, and her cast has enough relatability, to make for a watchable if flawed psychological thriller.
Fear of Rain is released digitally on demand on 26th April 2021.
Watch the trailer for Fear of Rain here: