7.7/10
146,856
253 user 83 critic

Primal Fear (1996)

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

Director:

Writers:

(novel), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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1,720 ( 42)

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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:

Sooner or later a man who wears two faces forgets which one is real. 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

Both Wil Wheaton and Leonardo DiCaprio turned down the part of Aaron Stampler. Wheaton turned down the role because he did not want to put off his acting school, and when his manager urged him to take the role anyway, he told him, "It is like Luke Skywalker when Yoda told him not to go and save his friends, but to stay on Dagobah and learn to be a Jedi instead. Luke didn't listen to him and that's why he never became true Jedi master." Later, Wheaton regretted turning this role down, saying that this was a crucial factor why his career never got to be a successful one. See more »

Goofs

(at around 3 mins) At the Catholic Charities dinner, the Archbishop is addressed as "Your Excellency". Assuming he was a Cardinal (since he was wearing red, not purple) he should have been addressed as "Your Eminence". See more »

Quotes

Joey Pinero: [while walking through Joey Pinero's old neighborhood] See this lot here? This lot used to be houses. In fact, there was a house over there on the corner where I kissed my first girl friend. Got her pregnant, too.
Martin Vail: Hell of a kiss, Joey.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Adam and Joe Show: Episode #1.3 (1996) 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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