Review: ‘Point of Fear’

Ever notice that, whenever a psychiatrist or psychologist appears in a thriller, they’re either hopelessly wrong, totally insane, or actually the criminal mastermind?

In the sleepy town of Pleasant Point, a new doctor named Michael Jamison (Jason Benjamin) has set up shop. After a visiting camper named Melissa (Austin Musick) picks up a local paper and reads about Dr. Jamison being a “fear doctor” specializing in phobias, she sneaks off from a camping trip for a private consultation. When Melissa doesn’t return by the next morning, her friends report it to the local police who initially dismiss the idea as a prank, but everyone begins to fear the worst when a body shows up at the lake.

Point of Fear has all the production values of a SciFi Channel Saturday night monster movie without the monster, at least not the mutant or alien kind. Bordering on the beginnings of a psychological thriller, the story divides the mystery between concentrating on criminal motivation and the search for a missing friend, but with neither being especially well developed, there’s just enough going to fill the running time before unleashing a slight twist and a clich?© ending.

To the production’s credit, the filmmakers were lucky to employ Austin Musick, an underused heroine in who appears more athletically capable than she was allowed to act, but they also know that she’s really who the audience wants to see on screen. While there may be a market for staring at Ms. Musick tied to a bed for half the movie, it would have been far more enjoyable to see her running away or kicking butt. “Fear doctor” Jason Benjamin is a pivotal part of the production and has the necessary menace required, but like the heroine, he is equally underused.

The bed scene is also a telling point about the overall production; for a potential thriller, there’s too much standing (or laying) around and not enough of doing anything. Sadly, most of the screen time is spent showing obvious murders that look lifted from an episode of “Criminal Minds” but with poorer execution. Viewers looking for a modest production and quick thrills may find something to enjoy, but the potential thriller they may have been hoping for and what they end up getting is more likely to disappoint than entertain.

Speak up, Mortal -- and beware of Spoilers!

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