Philophobia: Or The Fear Of Falling In Love – Review
Boy meets girl. Boy sees girl for seven months. Girl confesses her love for boy. Boy blows it. Damien (Aaron Burt) relishes his bachelor lifestyle while his frequent hook-up, Danielle (Emily Pearse) wants more. She delivers an ultimatum that leaves him struggling with haunted visions of commitment whilst attempting to give his best friend, Alan (David Lengel) one last hurrah before he heads back home to propose to his girlfriend.
What I found most compelling about Philophobia was director Tyler Cole and writer/ actor Aaron Burt’s focus on Damien’s condition. His mental and emotional state are clearly shaped by his fears of both action and inaction. There’s a conflict to the character that is wonderfully realised on screen with the use of cool blues and warm red hues, creating a striking visual contrast.
With a dearth of romantic plot threads dealing with commitment phobia as either tragic or comedic, it’s refreshing to see a horror element utilised for Damien. There’s certainly a deeper issue at play that fundamentally drives the character’s motivations.
While this is Damien’s journey, it is a shame that we only cut back to Danielle intermittently. There’s definitely a whole other movie to be made that deals with the horrors of a relationship on the brink from her perspective. Pearse and Burt radiate chemistry but at times their dialogue seems to get the better of them. However, there is a sweetness to the character’s relationship that has you rooting for a positive outcome to their troubles.
What struck me more than anything was the depiction of male bullishness and guardedness that comes in the wake of a break-up. The dichotomy of emotional strife and testosterone-fuelled machismo are the cracks in the pavement that Damien must traverse while upholding the illusion of normalcy. His fears manifest in his attempts to bury his feelings and “man up”.
While the completion of Damien’s arc may be a little obvious, Philophobia is more about the journey, and to that end, I could have sat through a season of his inner turmoil bubbling to the surface in a long-form narrative format. Aaron Burt imbues the character with a sense of emotional conflict that is both horrific and humorous. The aesthetic choices and percussive pervasiveness in the score help represent Damien, the man, the podcaster and philophobic. This project is clearly a labour of love and I’m looking forward to Tyler Cole’s next production
Philophobia: or the Fear of Falling in Love is released November 12th
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