Fever is a French crime story (not to be confused with the
German drama directed Elfi Mikesch) about two young boys studying
literature and philosophy who, in the opening seconds of the film, have
murdered a woman in her apartment. This happens off screen with just a
few sounds of the death being heard. This impersonal act starts the
whole thing moving and gets to the core themes in a story where they
have decided that without motive, and without even knowing the victim, it’s
not really a crime at all.
While the immediate Mad Max comparisons are easy to make because of the Australian gangs riding about in garish junkers, Peter Weir's first feature is a little more difficult to define. Some of the poster art shows bloody lettering and a monstrous Volkswagen adorned with metal spines, the sort of thing the first act of Fury Road gave a nod to. And yet this isn't an action movie, it's not a pure horror story and the vehicles are not really the centre of attention. If I had to pigeon hole this at all it would fall into the broad category of 'weird people in backwater towns doing weird things'. Which at least aligns the eponymous town with other strange places in the middle of nowhere that film characters wish they'd never stumbled across.
In a Hollywood diner a man describes a recurring dream he's been having. Then as things go on the details of this dream start to become a reality. Even when these moments have just been explained they are still somehow incredibly unsettling as the camera follows him outside to a filthy alley and things get really weird. But that sense of unease sums up of a lot of the viewing experience in a story that is full of random vignettes, false starts, detours into imagined scenarios and sudden stops at the end of nightmares. Maybe this is all just the wandering fantasy of a woman who wants to make it big on the silver screen. But just like the troubled man at the table trying to explain this doesn't change things or make them less disturbing.
It's a fine line between comedy and horror. Or is that just the line between clever and stupid? In a way of course these genres are similar and one each involves a series of setups and a payoffs whether the results are sudden shocks or unexpected laughs. In some cases these lines blur for better or worse. Explosions of violent mayhem may become ludicrous and sometimes intended jokes can cause existential dread. However there are films out there which blend the two seamlessly proving it's not always a bad thing. The real problems start when the outcome doesn't quite line up... or when the intentions of a serious science fiction plot is too unclear and the whole thing starts to feel more like a sitcom.