The Fear of 13 online movie review - A natural storyteller spins an often fascinating tale
Nick Yarris, a death row inmate who claims his innocence regarding his conviction for the rape and murder of a woman in the early '80s, tells his story to the camera in a very articulate and dramatic fashion.
This is a man who led a life of petty crime and got into drugs from a young age and had never gotten past a rudimentary level of formal education, and like many prisoners facing hard time, he self-taught by reading books and with the way he speaks in this doc (and we get everything from his perspective - he's literally the only person we hear from for the film's entire duration), he has clearly picked up the knack for storytelling. Whether he's embellishing some of his stories or not, it's hard to tell, but the imagery he conjures up with his vivid descriptions is often fascinating and really gives the viewer an idea of settings and circumstances. Admittedly, the nature of these constant talking-head segments does seem quite well-rehearsed in advance, but I generally didn't have much issue with it. Sometimes, however, it got a little over-the-top with unnecessary sound effects that were added for dramatic effect.
There is a very personal, tragic incident from Yarris' childhood that isn't brought up until close to the very end, I'm not sure how it aided his story really or why it was decided to add this bit in the final moments other than to maybe throw in a "twist" of sorts to reveal that Yarris himself was a rape victim, but oh well. Interesting documentary for the most part, which I thought was going to be another THE THIN BLUE LINE, Errol Morris' landmark 1988 documentary which actually helped lead to that film's subject being released from prison for a murder that he did not commit. And, well, I honestly wouldn't have minded THE FEAR OF 13 being similar to Morris' film, though I would have appreciated a bit more of the specifics on the abduction/rape/murder case for which Yarris was convicted. I have somewhat of a local connection since the mall parking lot where the victim was abducted was right near my hometown. Anyways, there have been better true crime docs but this one is worth a viewing for those who find this stuff fascinating, and told exclusively from the perspective of the subject. Yarris really knows to put a picture in your, the viewer's, head, and place yourself in every situation he describes in detail. The man is a natural-born storyteller...or maybe it was all that reading in prison that honed his skills.