VHS Release: March 5, 1995
DVD Release: September 27, 2016
Director: Erica Benedikty
Review by Vidal Granandos
Phobe is part Terminator. Part Predator. But it’s all heart.
In 1995, aspiring Canadian filmmaker Erica Benedikty wrote, produced and directed, along with friends and volunteers, a sci-fi action thriller known as Phobe.
The title Phobe refers to the villain of the film. The Phobe is an organism made by the military in a far away galaxy to kill enemy soldiers. Now that their galaxy is mostly at peace, there is no use for the creatures so the military wants them all destroyed. When the last Phobe goes rogue, the alien life form highjacks a ship and heads toward an asteroid field only to end up landing on Earth. It’s up to Sgt. Gregory Dapp (John Rubick), a high school cheerleader Jennifer (Tina Dumouline) and her nerdy friend Rob (Lyon Tenbroeck) to trap the last Phobe before it lays eggs and the world is swarmed by these disastrous creatures.
The movie is heavily inspired by the Schwarzenegger films of yester-year and it works. Director Erica Benedikty was able to make a fun sci-fi action film on a $250 budget. The story and dialogue isn’t that deep, but it doesn’t need to be for a movie like this. All you have to know is there’s an alien creature that needs to be destroyed. For most of the time the acting is very stiff, feeling like everyone’s reading they’re lines off cues cards. However, you can tell a lot of heart went into this film. This is the type of movie where a group of friends got together and shot off of someone’s Grandma’s camera. That’s not to say the film isn’t good. Far from it. They might not have had the luxury to record on expensive equipment, but the use of camera angles, music, CGI and environment really helps execute the director’s vision of the film.
The background music to Phoebe is very solid. Though the acting isn’t very enthusiastic, the music really picks up the energy. From suspenseful moments to action pack shootouts, the music does a great job of setting the mood of each scene. Also the sound effects do a decent job like the sounds of laser beams zapping from Sgt. Dapp’s gun or the Phobe’s “heat censor.” The sound quality itself isn’t good. Some of the actor’s voices are sometimes drowned out by static possibly for being to far away from the overhead microphone and it can be hard to hear what they’re saying. Yet in the same scene another actor’s voiceover will be loud and clear. Why everyone’s voice wasn’t cleaned up, I’m not sure.
- Audio commentary by writer/director Erica Benedikty, moderated by Paul Corupe and Peter Kuplowsky
- Director Erica Benedikty’s first movie “Back in Black”
- The making of Phoebe
- Q&A with cast and crew following home town screening in St. Catharines, Ontario
- Original FX shots from 1995 broadcast version of Phoebe
- Gribble Hell performs Phoebe theme
Phobe is a love letter to sci-fi action films to the past. Anyone who wants to make a film should watch Phobe for inspiration. What Erica Benedikty and her team were able to accomplish with a small budget but big aspirations is truly amazing. From thrilling chase scenes, cheesy moments and epic climax, Phobe is sure not to disappoint fans of the genre.