7.7/10
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Primal Fear (1996)

An altar boy is accused of murdering a priest, and the truth is buried several layers deep.

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(novel), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 10 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Abel Stenner
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Martinez
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Alex
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Storyline

Courtroom thriller about a slick, hotshot lawyer who takes the seemingly unwinnable case of a young altar boy accused of murdering an eminent catholic priest. Written by Jonathan Broxton <j.w.broxton@sheffield.ac.uk>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Don't believe everything you see... See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for brief grisly violence, pervasive strong language and a sex scene | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

3 April 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Iskonski strah  »

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Box Office

Budget:

$30,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$293,515, 26 July 1996

Gross USA:

$56,116,183

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$102,616,183
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Andre Braugher, who plays a Chicago Private Investigator in this film, played a New York cop four years later in Frequency (2000), which was also directed by Gregory Hoblit. See more »

Goofs

(at around 1h 19 mins) It is stated by several characters that a plea cannot be changed mid trial. However, it is entirely possible to change a plea before sentencing. See more »

Quotes

Tommy Goodman: [after Martin told Tommy what Aaron had told him, with Naomi present] That... is... a... bullshit story!
Martin Vail: Now it's *our* bullshit story.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Flash: Magenta (2016) See more »

Soundtracks

As Time Goes By
by Herman Hupfeld
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User Reviews

 
Edward Norton delivers the chills...(POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD)
12 September 2006 | by See all my reviews

PRIMAL FEAR is a good old-fashioned thriller with a modern twist. The plot concerns an altar boy accused of killing a clergyman who molested him and a sleazy lawyer who sees a chance to make tabloid news by taking the case. What he doesn't know is that his client can be just as cunning as he is.

RICHARD GERE seemed to specialize in playing these kind of low-down heels (typecasting does have its perils), and LAURA LINNEY as the prosecuting lawyer has her hands full trying to play a game of one-upmanship against him during an intense courtroom trial.

The story ends on a chilling note, thanks largely to the clever, intense and totally convincing performance ED NORTON gives in his film debut. As the guy who seems to have a devious split personality driving him to do bad things, he's the kind of actor who makes the audience sit up and take notice of his abrupt mood changes. It's no wonder he pulls the wool over so many eyes.

Having said that, it's the climax of the film that is most stunning and brings the story to a totally unexpected conclusion. It's the kind of chilling twist that only the most clever scriptwriters can devise and make seem probable--but it succeeds here.

Summing up: The kind of film you'll want to revisit once you know the whole score. Gere, Linney and Norton deserve high praise.


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