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Five Unforgettable Life Lessons I Learned from Fear (1996)


Whenever I think about Mark Wahlberg, I can’t help but imagine him beating his fist against his perfectly sculpted and hairless chest while gazing longingly at himself in the mirror. It’s an image that has been ingrained in my mind since I first saw the 1996 teen thriller Fear. The flick sees Wahlberg playing David, an unhinged boyfriend obsessed with a 16-year-old girl named Nicole (Reese Witherspoon). Throwing a wrench into the pair’s relationship is Nicole’s dad (William Peterson of CSI). Things get crazy when David loses Nicole and decides that if he can’t have her, no one will.  

The film–a gender swapped Fatal Attraction for teens–has become a cult hit, and the movie’s stars have gone on to enjoy massive success in Hollywood. I was only 9-years-old when Fear was first released. Watching it at that age probably seems highly inappropriate. But Fear left a deep impression on my developing mind, and possibly warped my sense of what a healthy relationship should be like. It taught me a lot. Below are five unforgettable life lessons I learned from Fear.  

Also See: Life Lessons We Learned from The Craft

Being Fingered is the Most Amazing Feeling in the World

Among the most unforgettable sequences in the film is a passionate (and incredibly dramatic) roller coaster ride.  It plays out as though it is the most incredible, mind-blowing experience ever to be had on a rollercoaster, or anywhere else.  

With “Wild Horses” by The Sundays as their romantic soundtrack, David and Nicole get onto a carnival ride and David makes the moves on Nicole by placing his hands up her skirt to ring the devil’s doorbell. Witherspoon whips her head back in euphoria as the roller coaster drops in perfect harmony with her happy ending. It was synchronistic. It was perfect. It was everything a roller coaster ride was meant to be. And it’s how I imagined all roller coaster rides to be. Let me tell you this: As I grew older, I learned that roller coaster rides were not like this, and getting fingered does not feel that good. Reese Witherspoon lied to me — and to all of us.   

It’s OK if Your Boyfriend is Possessive and Beats Up Your Friends

In the film, everyone but Nicole can tell that her boyfriend, David, is bad news, especially her best guy friend, Gary. Poor Gary was just concerned for Nicole and wanted what was best for her, but David wanted her all to himself. He proves this by punching Toby in the face (and Spoiler Alert: eventually killing him). But Nicole soon forgives him for beating up her friend. After all, he was just acting crazy because of how much he loved her. Right?


If Your boyfriend Doesn’t Carve Your Name Into His Chest, He Probably Doesn’t Love You

Another iconic scene in Fear sees David taking a knife and carving the words, NICOLE 4 EVA, into his chest as a display of his love. I mean, sure, some might say it’s excessive; however, it shows how committed David is to the relationship. Blood dries, but like his love for her, scars remain forever. It’s supposed to be romantic. So romantic. 

Fear Nicole 4 Eva

Peepholes are the Work of The Devil 

After David and Nicole break up, David completely loses it and decides to raid her house with his punk friends. The beautiful, brown-eyed boogeyman with the soothing Boston accent, lurks around Nicole’s property while she and her family cower inside. Then he walks up to her door, and in one of the most terrifying peephole moments in cinematic history, menacingly peers through and shouts, “Let me in the f**king house!” From that moment on, I have (naturally) been terrified of looking into any peephole, for fear of finding an anguished lover on the other end.  

Fear Movie

Always Listen to Your Father

From the moment Nicole’s father meets David, he immediately knows David is a bad guy. He doesn’t trust him and when he tells Nicole this, she brushes him off as being overbearing. As it turns out, her father was right all along. Call it a father’s intuition, or just common sense, but Nicole’s father Steve knew David was unhinged and would hurt his daughter. Had she actually listened to her dad, everything from the Nicole 4 EVA tattoos to the chest beating incidents could have been avoided. Fear taught me that your parents are usually right about the bad ones, and you should probably listen to them. At least until you can afford to move out on your own and make poor decisions without their unsolicited commentary. 

Steve in Fear

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Written by Amanda Tullos
In addition to contributing to Wicked Horror, Amanda Tullos has been writing about horror on her blog, Mandy's Morgue of Horror since 2011. She has written for FEARnet, Shock Till You Drop, Blumhouse.Com, and Bloody Disgusting. She lives in Boston with her family.
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