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TV Reviews : Showtime's 'The Fear Inside' Will Rattle Your Cage

August 08, 1992|RAY LOYND

Two psycho killers, who are also sicko lovers, terrorize a woman who suffers from agoraphobia in the paranoia thriller "The Fear Inside" (premiering on Showtime Sunday at 9 p.m.).

The production is a cut or two above most suspense stories because of the gripping performances and a script that takes the old premise of a victim trapped in her house and turns it into a crackling sexual/psychological shocker.

Almost as terrifying as the killing is the demented, kinky lovemaking of the murderers (Dylan McDermott and Jennifer Rubin)--complete with "meows," flashing Polaroid shots and an erotic rumble in the mud in a rainstorm next to a bloodied corpse they're about to bury.

Posing as a brother and sister, the killers ingratiate themselves into the life and the spacious, isolated home of a recently separated woman (Christine Lahti) who is seeking companionship to alleviate her wild fear of the outdoors.

The agoraphobic angle gives the horror a comparatively fresh dimension and allows director Leon Ichaso and screenwriter David Birke (from a story by co-executive producer Alan Jay Glueckman) to get away with, well, murder.

In a telling early scene, the nature of the abnormality is dramatically captured when the woman remains frozen at her window, unable to leave her house, despite watching her young son (Thomas Nicholas) fall off his bike into the family pool and appear to be drowning. The boy, it turns out, is playing a prank to get his mom \o7 out \f7 of the house but the mother's paralysis and torment, harrowingly rendered by Lahti, is real enough.

Needless to say, our sociopathic killers exploit this fear in a striking pair of performances that are hair-raising in part because their dissembling is so silky and attractive. When the mother catches on to their game midway through the show, the ante is raised and the hostage drama goes into orbit.

The two psychos are delicious roles. In the case of the gleaming, sexy Rubin (who played Edie Sedgwick in Oliver Stone's "The Doors"), her mercurial and crazed portrait, with hair spiked up like a fright wig, is a chilled witch's brew. McDermott's wacko, a notch more human or should we say less insane, is equally riveting, propelling the lust and the chaos with an interesting twinge of remorse.

Much like the current theatrical thriller "Unlawful Entry," the movie is coiled like a spring and speaks to the caged bird in us trying to break out. As for birds, a pet parrot plays a surprising role in "The Fear Inside."

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