Review: ‘Fear of Rain,’ a character study at odds with thriller genre

Eugenie Bondurant, left, and Madison Iseman in "Fear of Rain."

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In the psychological thriller “Fear of Rain,” Madison Iseman plays Rain Burroughs, a troubled teen who becomes convinced that one of her teachers (Eugenie Bondurant) has imprisoned a child in her attic. With the help of a handsome classmate named Caleb (Israel Broussard), Rain defies her parents (Katherine Heigl and Harry Connick Jr.) and fights to keep this kid from going through what she herself recently did, when she was held captive by a stranger in the woods.

Here’s the big problem, though: Rain is mentally ill and frequently hallucinates people and events. It turns out that she was never actually abducted; she just imagined it. Also, no one can seem to verify whether Caleb exists. It’s no wonder then that her dad doubts her claims about the kidnapping teacher.


For the most part, writer-director Castille Landon plays fair with her premise. Rain isn’t presented as some misunderstood adolescent, wrongly forced by her folks to see a therapist and to take medication. Instead, she’s legitimately characterized as a person with schizophrenia, persistently plagued by voices and visions. Landon treats her situation as a multi-layered mystery. Which of her heroine’s beliefs — if any — are grounded in something real?

But Landon struggles to generate much tension from her plot, which frequently feels contrived. The story jerks its protagonist (and its audience) through several dark and heartbreaking moments, before inevitably landing on a final confrontation with an outcome that’s not too hard to predict … and thus not all that nerve-wracking.

The performances here are solid; and Landon makes nice use of the Old South architecture and the lush flora in and around Tampa, Fla. But this sensitively rendered portrayal of schizophrenia often clashes with its attempts at Hitchcock-style suspense. This is ultimately a nuanced character study, awkwardly wedged into a run-of-the-mill genre picture.

'Fear of Rain'

Rated: PG-13, for mature thematic content, violence/terror, disturbing images and some strong language

Running time: 1 hour, 49 minutes

Playing: Available on VOD and in limited release where theaters are open; Feb. 16 on Blu-ray and DVD