This extremely bloody anthology horror movie by five diverse directors offers a much cleverer structure than usual; it's ambitious as well as playful, and it all seems like a single, cohesive piece. Most horror anthologies have a thin wraparound idea that ties their stories together, but Phobias jumps right in to one of the stories and then brings it around to the central story. And this time, the central story is the actual point, rather than just connective tissue. But this is a dark movie, with very few actually scary parts. It instead focuses on panic, violence, obsession, and the concept of fear, even if it's a bit sticky about letting viewers get inside the characters' heads.
For example, the five characters' phobias aren't explained, but it's possible to guess that "Robophobia" is the fear or robots or artificial intelligence, "Vehophobia" is the fear of driving, "Ephebiphobia" is the fear of teenagers, "Hoplophobia" is the fear of firearms, and "Atelophobia" is the fear of imperfection. The film's diverse group of directors includes three women -- one is the actor Camilla Belle, making her writing and directing debut -- and two people of color. They all use smart construction, clever casting (pop star Macy Gray gives a lurching performance as the woman with Atelophobia), and fluid storytelling. Only the ending of Phobias seems a little off and not quite up to the level of the rest of the film.