Fear (1996): 8 Similar Thriller Movies You Should Watch

With James Foley at the helm, ‘Fear’ is a chilling tale of young love, deceit, manipulation, and fixation. This 1996 thriller will live up to anyone who’s a fan of the genre. The sleeper hit, starring Reese Witherspoon, Mark Wahlberg, and Alyssa Milano, revolves around Nicole and David, who fall in love. As their relationship progresses, the alarming toxic traits of David are unveiled, which leads to fear, obsession, manipulation, and violence. It is a memorable lethal attraction thriller that sets it apart from the rest.

While solely posited as a thriller, ‘Fear’ is a combination of a few genres, including erotica, coming-of-age, horror, and drama, employing distinct tropes from each. Although the film sets a unique style for itself, several movies in the genre bear a similar tone and explore parallel scenarios, albeit with their own twist. Therefore, we have curated a list of 8 similar movies like ‘Fear’ you’ll love watching.

8. Cape Fear (1991)

A creation of the legendary director Martin Scorsese, ‘Cape Fear’ is a memorable thriller from the early 90s. The story revolves around lawyer Sam (Nick Nolte) and his family, who have newly relocated to New Essex. They realize that they’re being obsessively stalked by Max (Robert De Niro), who is out after serving a 14-year prison sentence for raping a young woman. Sam reveals that he was Max’s defense lawyer for the case but purposely lost by concealing evidence that was in his favor during the trial. For this, Max intends to take revenge on Sam and his family for his actions.

Though quite unique in its own way, ‘Cape Fear’ employs a comparable sense of violence and vengeance present in the core of ‘Fear.’ A distinct 90s thriller DNA is ever-present in both films. While ‘Cape Fear’ isn’t a tale of lethal attraction, it firmly shares resemblances with the Mark Wahlberg starrer in its brutality and how its main antagonists share obsessive and psychotic personality traits.

7. Sleeping with the Enemy (1991)

Starring the evergreen Julia Roberts comes a tale of intrigue, thrills, lethal attraction, and violence. Directed by Joseph Ruben, ‘Sleeping with the Enemy’ revolves around Sara, a woman who is forced to change her looks and identity in order to escape her past. She stages her own death and flees to a new town, but her abusive and obsessive husband, Martin, finds out about this and pursues her to the very end.

‘Sleeping with the Enemy’ shares several likenesses with ‘Fear,’ as both explore themes of obsession, fear, vengeance, and violence. Although each film has a unique premise, the lead characters of the films are quite alike. Laura and Martin, from ‘Sleeping with the Enemy’, feel like grown-up versions of Nicole and David from ‘Fear’. If you liked ‘Fear’ you’ll like ‘Sleeping with the Enemy’.

6. The Babysitter (1995)

Guy Ferland’s ‘The Babysitter’ is quite reminiscent of ‘Fear’ as both films revolve around erotica, obsession, and lethal attraction. Starring Alicia Silverstone, the film follows Jennifer, who is hired to work as a babysitter for the children of Harry and Dolly. Doubting Jennifer, Dolly suspects that Harry fantasizes about Jennifer and finds out that he actually is. However, Jennifer isn’t just the focus of Harry; there are two other boys involved who will do anything to attain Jennifer. ‘Fear’ and ‘The Babysitter’ are both great thrillers that showcase the dramatized activities and mindset of individuals poisoned with obsession. These individuals lust for their victims as possessions rather than other people. Another good watch for those who like ‘Fear.’

5. The Boy Next Door (2015)

Jennifer Lawrence stars in ‘The Boy Next Door’, a film that’s erotic, thrilling, and has resembling traits of ‘Fear.’ Directed by Rob Cohen, the film revolves around Claire Peterson, who gets introduced to a much younger Noah Sandborn. Claire and Noah feel a certain attraction to each other and, in an impulsive display, sleep together. However, Claire does not realize that her actions will have disastrous outcomes. The film explores themes equivalent to ‘Fear’ as both look to provide a concentrated dose of thrilling lethal attraction. While the ages of the characters are different in the films, the primary antagonist is nearly identical in nature. The two antagonists perceive their targets as possessions, not people. What was initially thought of as attraction, eventually turned into fixation and compulsion, enough for them to do anything in their power, even resort to violence, to get what they want.

4. Darr (1993)

‘Darr’ is an Indian Hindi-language film directed and produced by veteran Indian director Yash Chopra. Starring some of the most prominent names in Indian cinema, the film revolves around Rahul, who is obsessed with Kiran. He is known to fantasize about her and constantly stalks her. However, Rahul’s obsession reaches its ultimate break point when he finds out that Kiran is engaged to Sunil. Rahul, at this point, is ready to do anything in his power to get Kiran.

‘Darr’ and Fear share identicality in the sense that a lot of Rahul’s mannerisms are nearly equal to that of David from ‘Fear.’ ‘Darr’, which translates to ‘Fear’ in English, has also been claimed by a few to be a basis of inspiration for the American film. While we cannot confirm these claims, we can observe the equivalent arcs that both Rahul and David share. Their obsession, anger, vengeance, manipulation, and violence are personalities that are quite inherent in both these characters.

3. The Crush (1993)

Alan Shapiro’s ‘The Crush’ stars Alicia Silverstone in a lead role and explores many themes that ‘Fear’ is known to venture into as well. The film revolves around Darian, who gradually gets infatuated with Nick, a writer who is staying at her parents’ guest house. She falsely accuses him of harassing her when he doesn’t respond to her advances. She tries different ways to get his attention; however, her infatuation turns into a lethal obsession. ‘The Crush’ might have a different premise to the one on ‘Fear’ but its lead character’s obsessive and even psychotic behavior is equivalent. Both David and Darian are ready to do anything, even resort to false accusation, manipulation, and violence, to attain those they lust for.

2. Stalking Laura (1993)

A TV movie directed by Michael Switzer, Stalking Laura shares nearly identical character traits to the ones found in ‘Fear.’ The film centers around Laura, who begins interning at an electronics company, unaware of the horrors that await her. Her colleague, Richard, gets infatuated with her and starts stalking her. This infatuation turns into obsession and violence, setting up some great thrills in this lethal attraction flick.

‘Stalking Laura’ and ‘Fear’ are incredibly identical regarding their main characters. Laura is very timid, likable, and young, resembling Nicole in ‘Fear’, on the other hand, Richard and David share their compulsive, obsessive, psychotic, and violent behaviors. The antagonists will go to any extent to attain what they desire. The films set up two different stages for chaos to ensue and are both incredible lethal attraction thrillers.

1. Swimfan (2002)

Directed by John Polson, ‘Swimfan’ is nearly identical to ‘Fear’. Imagine roles reversed between lead characters Nicole and David of ‘Fear,’ with several tweaks to give it a distinctive flair. The film revolves around Ben, a popular and intelligent student who appears to have most things figured out about himself. Things drastically change when he meets Madison Bell. She becomes obsessed with Ben, eyeing him as a possession. Chaos ensues as Madison will do anything to obtain Ben, even if it means resorting to violence.

This film makes it on this list because ‘Swimfan’ and ‘Fear’ are essentially first cousins or even siblings in the lethal attraction genre. Viewers will be able to draw parallels on character traits, film structure and progression, tonality, exploration of themes, and sometimes even narrative. However, its most standout similarity is between the film’s antagonists. Madison and David share more likenesses than differences. They’re incredibly possessive and if they lust for another, they see them as possessions more than anything else. They lose themselves to fixation and compulsion which ultimately leads to violence if they can’t attain what they lust for.

Read More: Fear (1996): Is the Thriller Movie Inspired by Real Life?