Ari Astaire gained worldwide fame with his horror films The Heredity and Solstice. These films mastered the desire to scare the audience and did it so well that they gave rise to the terms “post-horror” and “slow burn horror” to designate their subgenre of slow horror films. The very essence of this subgenre already sounds somewhat pretentious, as if elevating some horror films among the general mass of an already quite intellectual genre. But “All Fears Because” does not even fit into this concept. But how this adventure turned out – read in the review below.
“All the fears of Beau” / Beau Is Afraid
Comedy horror genre
Directed by Ari Aster
Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Parker Posey, Kyle Rogers, Amy Ryan, Nathan Lane, Michael Gandolfini
Release year 2023
The protagonist of the film is an elderly man named Beau (Joaquin Phoenix). He is afraid of almost everything in the world: from loud noises to interaction with other people. But separately, he is frightened by his mother, with whom he has developed a special bond since childhood. On the anniversary of his father’s death, Bo was supposed to visit his mother, but a series of unpleasant, almost mystical circumstances created many obstacles to this. However, Bo goes on the trip anyway so as not to disappoint his mother. On a trip that is as dangerous as it is sacred.
The origins of All Beau’s Fears can be traced back to 2011, when Ari Astaire released the short film Beau. It was about a person whose apartment keys ended up in the hands of a stranger. The short film is built around this fear of the intrusion of the madness of the outside world into the house, which is supposed to be a safe haven for the main character. It was not without admixtures of crazy surrealism here, but we can attribute this to Astaire’s creative handwriting.
All Fears Bo begins in a similar fashion. Only the sense of threat coming from the outside world is twisted to the maximum here. Every person on the street in the world of the film is a madman or a freak, and threats lurk around every corner. Although there is always a possibility that Bo simply sees the world that way. After all, the main character here is literally afraid of everything in the world.
It is all the more ironic that “All Fears Because” cannot be called particularly scary. But here is a rare case when it does not harm the film at all. After all, it still has enough absurd, creepy, disgusting and disturbing scenes.
Taking the feeling of fear as the driving force of the story, Astaire examines it from all angles – and ultimately goes beyond it. After all, when fear becomes the axis of rotation of the world, it simultaneously turns into the norm of life.
Against the background of paranoid horror, the flirtations with black comedy in “All the Fears of Bo” are particularly noticeable. This element was not present either in Solstice or Inheritance. In places, Aster’s new film is genuinely funny. But even the comedic elements here are built on repulsive and specific elements, so be prepared to get extremely mixed emotions.
In his third (and most ambitious) full-length film, Astaire is not at all ceremonial with the audience. He does not shy away from naturalistic to disgusting scenes of violence, and sex here becomes another scripting tool. Unfortunately for Bo, even love doesn’t end well here. He will have time to suffer for his trip to his mother’s house.
During the three hours of the film, Bo will be in so many different situations that they could very well be an anthology of short horror films. Episodes differ even in tonality, embedded thoughts and directorial techniques.
And it is all the more striking that Aster combines such disparate moments into a single narrative. There is nothing superfluous in the film, and its elements resonate with each other in such intricate combinations that it is interesting to analyze “All the Fears of Bo” even days after viewing.
“All the Fears of Bo” is an extremely complex film that does not care about the feelings of the viewer. Aster is only covered by a story about a person who is afraid of everything in the world, but in reality it bites into the essence of human emotions and touches the most painful things inside the soul.
A special place in this kaleidoscope of horror is occupied by the sanctity of the relationship between mother and child. But even her “All the fears of Bo” are presented in such a way that doubts begin to whisper inside.
It is relatively easy for a work of art to make a person feel joy or sadness. But to make the viewer feel out of place, to cause confusion, embarrassment, and moral hostility — that’s something from the category of real art. In “All the Fears of Bo” it turns out so delicately that while watching it you don’t even notice how you start to drown in local nightmares.
The talent of Joaquin Phoenix plays far from the last role in the phantasmagoria created on the screens.
The actor has been extremely careful in choosing his roles in recent years. And paranoid almost to the point of psychosis Bo became a worthy addition to his collection of images. He manages to constantly balance between sympathy and condemnation, because of which it will not be possible to form an unambiguous attitude to the main character.
Ambiguity seems to have become the main spiritual driving force of the film. Many moments of the film and phrases of the characters are in conflict. Even the script structure itself begins to collapse in the middle, move to new levels of perception and seem to forget what the film is really about. But Aster uses this technique only to plunge you into Bo’s nightmares once again.
After all, real fear has no clear structure. Fear does not need explanations and thinking. He is constantly somewhere in the backyard of consciousness and in the depths of the subconscious. At the same time, the impact of fear on our lives cannot be underestimated.
Many horror films are lost in unnecessary attempts to explain everything. Putting fear into a clear form that will make it lose control over you and disappear. But there is no such thing in the movie “Everybody’s Fears”. The irrational nature of the film only enhances its effect on the audience. And even if the comparisons to David Lynch in 2023 already seem in poor taste, it’s hard to think of a more appropriate analogy.
“All the Fears of Bo” offers so much that it is almost impossible to believe in the very fact of the existence of such a monstrous film. Here you can find all kinds of horror, experimentally grotesque humor, a kind of psychoanalysis session, and even a small cheat sheet of directorial and screenwriting techniques. This is an amazing film that makes you want to think a lot and talk about it just as much.
However, the conversation will rather turn into an argument, because you are unlikely to find the truth here. But that’s another element of the magical influence of “All the Fears of Bo”.
Pros: the structure of the plot is incredible in its complexity and thoughtfulness; outstanding acting by Joaquin Phoenix; perfect work with fear in all its diversity; unexpectedly relevant humor Cons: the accumulation of ideas and subtexts may pass by the audience Conclusion:
If Astaire’s “Inheritance” was the beginning of post-horror, then “All the Fears of Bo” is their metaphorical end. In his third film, the director went beyond all the boundaries of fear and managed to find something so ephemeral that it cannot be repeated and is difficult to convey in words. But you definitely need to see it in person