Director: Jeremy Lovering
Cast: Iain De Caestecker, Alice Englert, Allen Leech
Running Time: 85 minutes
Release Date: November 15th
Jeremy Lovering’s In Fear was received reasonably well at this year’s Sundance Film Festival in Utah, but don’t expect to be too terrified by this run-of-the mill horror flick about a young British couple plunged into danger.
Tom and Lucy are in Ireland to attend a music festival with friends. To mark their two-week anniversary, Tom has booked them into a country hotel for a romantic retreat before they hook up with the rest of the gang later on. Lucy is told this surprise news as they sit in their rented car, having enjoyed an afternoon tipple in the local pub. There is some talk amongst the pair of a mild confrontation with some of the regulars inside the pub, but no firm details are provided.
They set off down country roads in search of the hotel, but the sat nav fails them and they are soon lost. No matter what route they take, they always end up back at the same spot. The two become anxious as darkness falls, and when it emerges that they are being stalked by an unknown assailant they enter full-blown panic mode.
In Fear has a claustrophobic feel to it – which is likely to appeal to low-budget horror film afficianados. The vast majority of the action takes place inside the car as it travels down dark country roads. There are occasional stops where one or both of the characters get out of the vehicle, but they rarely stray far, or for too long. That works fine for the opening half-hour, but then it becomes tedious, and in the end it is as much an endurance test for the viewer as it is for the characters.
De Caestecke and Englert work perfectly well as the two leads. But there isn’t much of a supporting cast, and it is a big ask to expect the young actors to carry the film by themselves. Englert was 17 at the time of filming; a lot of improvisation took place, so neither of the pair was sure what was going to happen next — to the extent that Englert later admitted to being ‘distraught’ by certain plot developments. That might be a handy line for publicising the film, but the usefulness of the improvisation strategy is very much open to question.
As for their stalker, well the whole thing is just muddled. For long periods it is not clear who is pursuing them and why, and this lack of clarity grates. There is mystery surrounding the assailant and his pursuit of Tom and Lucy, but no real sense of menace — certainly not when compared with other films in the getaway-turned-nightmare genre such as Eden Lake.
There are other little things too — a climactic scene derailed by purposely shaky camera work, English registration plates on all the cars even though it is supposed to be set in Ireland, and a character who is a self-described local to the area speaking in a Dublin accent.
In Fear might go down well with a niche audience, but there are better versions of the same thing out there.