Fear Inc. follows a group of four friends who become unwitting subjects to a contracted service that provides intense scares that are designed to feel real. After Joe (Lucas Neff) calls the company out of curiosity, he, his girlfriend (Caitlin Stasey) and their two friends (Chris Marquette and Stephanie Drake) becomes victims of the game. As the nostalgia of their horror film-related crimes wears off, the group begins to realize that this organization may not just be playing around.
When you see a familiar face in a low-budget horror film, you expect them to steal the show. In the case of Fear Inc., I was expecting that person to be Chris Marquette. This guy is no stranger to horror, comedies, or a combination of the two, as he appeared in The Rite (horror), Just Friends (comedy), and Freddy vs. Jason and Night of the Living Deb (horror comedies). And while he certainly held his role well in Fear Inc., it was lead Lucas Neff that really took the screen. Neff's role as the horror-junkie is so flawlessly flawed that you actually have an existential moment of understanding why not everyone loves the "horror guy".
Fear Inc. is another twist on the horror satire, integrating horror tropes for comedic effect. While this has been done in countless ways, it works really well in this film. After all, the service hired to do the scaring is meant to use every trick in the book. So when the blood starts spraying in eerily similar ways, we are ecstatic along with Neff as we recall each homage one by one.
I loved the first half of this film as the tension builds. It was when Neff and the film were at their funniest, refusing to take things seriously even though everything around them has seemingly turned that way. There were moments when things got a bit too serious that I missed the earlier scenes of levity, where the script, director and lead fed off each other in dark humor harmony. It wasn't enough to detract from the effectiveness of the film as a whole, as it was more fun than I was expecting it to be from beginning to end.
But still, I have to say that I hated the ending. It made no sense at all. The motivations and entire sensibility of the plot was tossed out the window for some sort of horror gag ending. The more I tried to defend it, the more ammunition I found for the senselessness of it. Because of the satirical aspect of the film, I'm willing to let it slide as a joke that went too far or over my head, but it hurt the final sentiment I had for the film.
Other than that, I have to give it credit for making the most of its budget and cast. I would say everything was pretty much maxed out to its potential. The potential wasn't a particularly high bar, but for an indie horror comedy it does more than fine.