The Fear reboot casts The Hate U Give star Amandla Stenberg. In the mid 1990s, Universal paired young rising stars Mark Wahlberg and Reese Witherspoon in Fear, a teen psychological thriller that featured Wahlberg as a misdirected, violent, and abusive boyfriend to Witherspoon’s character, Nicole.
Today, a film starring the likes of Wahlberg and Witherspoon would likely garner a certain degree of attention, but in 1996, Wahlberg was still shaking off his hip-hop persona gained through his years with The Funky Bunch as Marky Mark, while Witherspoon was still a decade away from her Oscar-winning performance in 2005’s Johnny Cash biopic, Walk the Line. As a result, Fear was initially a teen film without much interest from teens - or anyone, for that matter. Still, the low-budget thriller managed a decent box office take and has since gained a sort of cult status over time.
In fact, it seems that this passing of time has also made Fear a title worth resurrecting for Universal, and Deadline has revealed that a reboot is on its way. In addition to news of the reimagined thriller, there’s also some casting news to report. Amandla Stenberg, star of last year’s adaptation of the award-winning novel, The Hate U Give, is attached to Fear. However, at present it’s uncertain if Stenberg will play a similar role as that of Witherspoon’s Nicole in the 1996 version.
The Fear reboot also looks to be getting a solid screenwriter in Jonathan Herman, who found tremendous success with his work on the N.W.A. biopic Straight Outta Compton. Herman received an Oscar-nomination for that script, so it should be interesting to see what he can do with Fear’s relatively straightforward concept. It’s clear that much has changed in the world since 1996, meaning that a rebooted Fear has a lot of potential subject matter at its disposal. At the same time, Stenberg’s work in The Hate U Give, which followed the ongoing hot-button issue of police shootings of unarmed civilians, has provided her with invaluable experience dealing with social issues on screen. Because of this, Stenberg’s attachment to the film could be one of its brightest points. As of this writing, there is no indication as to which actor might be taking on the male lead role that Wahlberg portrayed back in 1996.
With successful teen programming like 13 Reasons Why and Sex Education delving deep into many issues faced by teens, it’s as good a time as any to expand those issues on the big screen by rebooting Fear. Hopefully, Universal will deliver something more than the rather basic psychological thriller plot that the original film offered and instead move deeper into issues that are very real to today’s teens. Fear was framed less as a film about the realities of domestic violence and more along the lines of something frightening that happened once to someone. Over twenty-years on since its release, a healthy dose of realism could indeed make Fear truly terrifying.