The Fear Of 13 (15)

Directed by David Sington
Picturehouse, Liverpool
5th January 2016

Reviewed by Colin Serjent

In essence this is a simple story of a man, Nick Yarris, who spent 23 years on Death Row telling us of his life. For the most part of this documentary the camera lingers on his face as he recounts his troubled times as well as the happier events which he took part in.

Was Yarris played by an actor? I might be wrong but I am convinced he was. It is hard to believe that a man incarcerated for such a length of time and brutalised by the prison system would be able to be so articulate in recalling his memories in such a 'professional' manner, almost like a performance for the cameras. It almost resembled an extended monologue you would hear on a theatre stage.

He endured many dashed hopes in trying to prove he was innocent of the rape and murder of a woman when he was a young man.

He kept his sanity, among many periods in solitary confinement, spanning over two years, by reading hundreds of books, mainly fiction-based.

I knew from the outset of the film that he had been released prior to it being made. If he was still on Death Row he would not have been allowed to to speak for such an extended period of time to justify his 'innocence'.

He spoke about how endless single days seemed to drag on forever but as is the case with our perception of time years seemed to fly by!

Some reviewers of the film stated that as it progressed they grew to like him. That was certainly not the case with me. He came across as very plausible, an extremely good liar and someone definitely not to be trusted.

His frustration at being unable to prove he was not guilty of the murder led to him petitioning the courts for them to set a date for him to be executed.

The Fear Of 13 does not solely consist of him talking to the camera. You also see the interiors of prisons, dramatic moments when he escaped prison for 23 days before being captured, and re-enacted episodes from his youth. Elements of sound and music are also effectively used to help embellish his story.

It is due to be shown on the small screen, via the Storyville series strand, on the BBC later this year.

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