A Fantastic Fear Of Everything (15)

Crispian Mills, Chris Hopewell, 100mins. Starring: Simon Pegg, Sheridan Smith, Clare Higgins
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Mid-way through Crispian Mills' misfiring debut feature, one character complains about being "abducted by a crazed psychopath." This is a sentiment likely to be shared by audiences, too, as they're subjected to some increasingly bizarre and desperate set-pieces.

Simon Pegg stars as a bearded hypochondriac/ children's novelist obsessed by mass murderers. Mills throws in some inventive animation of hedgehogs and includes one or two moments of passable slapstick but the overall effect here is grim.

The plotting is whimsical and haphazard, culminating in a truly ridiculous finale in the basement of the local launderette.

Provided with tin-eared dialogue and placed in increasingly absurd situations, the actors are reduced to abject mugging. Pegg, generally one of British cinema's most redoubtable comic actors, has seldom seemed so charmless.

Mills comes from blue-blooded filmmaking stock (he is a grandson of the Boulting brothers). His visual imagination isn't in doubt but the screenplay here is in chronic need of repair.