(Psychological Thriller)




    Variety - 5/19/99



    A Sunlight Pictures (London) production. (International sales: J&M

    Entertainment, London.) Produced by Christian Martin. Executive

    producers, Graham Bradstreet, Ali Lou Mitchell, Connie Tavel. Directed,

    written by Alex Winter. [###]




                       Nick Parker - Henry Thomas

                       Will - David O’Hara

                       Detective Glass - Bill Duke

                       Charlotte - Teri Hatcher

                       Sidney - Sandor Tecsy

                       Rula - Irma St. Paul

                       Soledad - Marisol Padilla Sanchez

                       Wooley - Jon Tracy



    An eerie, insinuating tale of urban dread and mental breakdown, "Fever"

    reps an impressively sophisticated directorial follow-up to his 1993

    comedy "Freaked" by Alex Winter, the actor who co-starred with Keanu

    Reeves in the "Bill & Ted" films. Telling of a lonely young painter

    whose grip on the world is threatened by lethal doings in his New York

    apartment building, Winter employs a visual palette that itself is

    quite painterly, creating an arresting succession of images and

    atmospheric set pieces that cast a vivid, expressionistic spell. Though

    the drama’s progress doesn’t fully deliver on its intriguing premise,

    pic’s ambitiousness and stylistic bravado should make it a festival

    favorite, with additional arthouse potential linked to strong reviews.


    Though it has elements of a thriller, pic’s story, written by Winter,

    is more of a moody psychological study a la Polanski’s "Repulsion."

    When we first see Nick Parker (Henry Thomas), he’s exchanging barbs

    with Sidney (Sandor Tecsy), the obnoxious landlord of the seedy

    building where he lives.


    Teaching art by day at a local YMCA, Nick spends his nights trying to

    paint, a routine interrupted one evening by noises from above. The

    cause turns out to be Will (David O’Hara), an interloper who exudes

    menace and cares nothing for Nick’s claims that Sidney promised to

    avoid renting the room over his.


    Not long after, Sidney is found brutally murdered in his apartment, and

    Nick tells the investigating detective (Bill Duke) of an argument he

    witnessed between the landlord and a drunken evictee (John Tracy). When

    Nick voices the same suspicions to Will, though, his mysterious,

    unwanted neighbor appears more malevolent than ever, brandishing a

    knife and saying the old drunk didn’t have the strength to commit such

    a savage slashing.



    Plagued by nightmares and fevers that seem only to be exacerbated by

    contact with his middle-class family who live in a more comfortable

    section of Brooklyn, Nick begins to act in ways that make others doubt

    his stability and that ultimately raise the question of whether he is

    capable of the murderous rage he has imputed to others.


    While the climactic twists of Winter’s tale may be anticipated well

    before they arrive, his writing is polished. Pic’s strongest suit,

    however, is unquestionably its captivating style, including Col

    Anderson’s imaginative sound design but most especially in the visual



    Winter’s tech collaborators do superb work across the board. Joe

    DeSalvo’s sumptuous lensing, which leans so heavily on grays as to seem

    almost colorless at times, meshes beautifully with Mark Ricker’s

    ingenious sets and Azam Kung’s costumes.


    Pic’s air of intelligence and sharp craftsmanship extend to its

    performances. Thomas delivers an appealing, finely shaded turn in a

    role that demands a careful blend of tones, and he receives top-notch

    support from the forceful work of O’Hara and Duke.


      Camera (color), Joe DeSalvo; editor, Thom Zimny; music, Joe Delia;

      production designer, Mark Ricker; costume designer, Azam Kung; sound

      (Dolby), Col Anderson; casting, Todd Thaler. Reviewed at Cannes Film

      Festival (Directors Fortnight), May 16, 1999. Running time: 95 MIN.