Starring: Iain De Caestecker, Alice Englert, Allen Leech
Genre: Horror/ Thriller
In hoping to attract the interest of Lucy (Englert), Tom (De Caestecker) invites her to a music festival in Ireland. Two weeks later the two of them are on their way to the music festival now a couple, and in what he regards as a ‘romantic gesture’, Tom books the two of them into a hotel for the night before the festival. After stopping in a pub with some rather unfriendly locals they follow the signs to the secluded hotel but the signs seem to lead them in circles. Lost in the remote Irish countryside and with darkness setting in their senses start to play tricks on them with anxieties and paranoia kicking in. Is there someone out to get to them? Or is it all in their head? Then they accidentally hit someone and events start to take an even darker and mysterious turn.
I am happy to confess that initially In Fear is not a film I would consider watching, there is a plethora of low budget horror films out there and they tend to be rubbish, even the expensive ones have a tendency to be crap these days, relying on cheap clichés or extreme gore to hide the director’s and writer’s lack of talent (yes James Wan I most certainly include you in that). Well after hearing consistently positive reviews I thought I would give this one a go and I am pleased to say I am glad I did. In Fear is a genuinely well made and genuinely tense little chiller of a film.
Though it is most definitely not perfect, with a low budget, just three characters, a car and the remote Irish (well, actually Cornish) countryside Lovering has created a genuinely tense, atmospheric and intelligent thriller. As soon as the couple get lost and darkness creeps in there is a genuine atmosphere and chill in the air of the film as their senses take over. We of course always fear the unknown and Lovering skilfully keeps this effective notion going as long as he can without resorting to lazy clichés and silly revelations. Lovering uses subtle techniques to achieve this with plenty of claustrophobic shots within the car, but the open shots of the serene countryside seem almost the more claustrophobic. The open countryside has never seemed more sinister as, like I said, we always fear the unknown, especially when our senses start playing tricks on us.
Lovering shot the film in time with the script and apparently did not tell his two actors what was going to happen to them which certainly adds extra authenticity. Iain De Caestecker and Alice Englert give good performances, feeling believable as a new couple (something that is often tested) and the fact that not even the actors knew what was going to happen to them in the narrative adds a little more authenticity. There is little character development as such, but for the character of Tom there is certainly an element of repressed masculinity that is never emphasised too much but proved important in the film’s final third.
The final third adds a new and mysterious character, who the two of them accidentally hit. I will of course not say anything else, but this character adds a new element and injection to proceedings. In this final third admittedly not everything works, and character reactions sometimes verge on a little less than authentic and Lovering certainly struggles to fill the very short 85 minute running time. However, there is still genuine tension throughout and Lovering does not fall down any easy traps that other directors of the genre may resort to, meaning he most definitely is in control of his film (trust me, that is refreshing to see!). On the evidence of In Fear, Jeremy Lovering certainly looks like a director to watch and hopefully for his next film will be given a budget to truly show James Wan how it is done.
Proving that you do not need a big budget to make an effectively chilling film, In Fear keeps things simple and very effective to create an admittedly flawed but genuinely tense, chilling and engaging film.