28th Oct2013

‘In Fear’ Review

by Jack Kirby

Stars: Alice Englert, Iain De Caestecker, Allen Leech | Written and Directed by Jeremy Lovering

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I missed In Fear at FrightFest so I was glad to catch a screening of this interesting-sounding horror. It stars Alice Englert and Iain De Caestecker (lately of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) as a young new couple on a drive to a secluded hotel in rural Ireland. Unfortunately they get lost. Even more unfortunately, they start getting attacked by unknown forces. As petrol and nerves run low, our heroes begin to realise they may not see out the night alive.

For a horror, nothing particularly out of the ordinary then. There’s nothing particularly gimmicky/unique selling pointy/outstandingly interesting about the synopsis. What In Fear does well is to tap into a fairly common, scary shared experience and turn the screw near to breaking point. That this is bolstered by some decent and interestingly conjured performances is all to the good. I think I’m right in saying that most people at some point in their lives have been a bit too lost in an unfamiliar place, a bit too late in the day. In Fear captures this sense of slowly-building dread excellently. The more lost the characters get, the more heightened their tension becomes and the sillier the mistakes they make become. Night inevitable draws in and it becomes evident that there is little more quietly terrifying than being alone in the woods during the magic hour.

One of director Jeremy Lovering’s methods of producing his actors’ performances was withholding much of the script prior to shooting the action, meaning that twists are often as surprising to the actors as they are to the audience. I’m not sure how that works practically, but the two leads’ performances are very naturalistic and they feel like a believable couple.

Maybe the most commendable aspect of In Fear is its economic use of very few elements to great effect. Basically all you’ve got is a pair of actors, a car and some woods and yet a portent atmosphere of creeping dread and some effective frights are cannily created. As a testament to what can be done with very few resources, it works very well.

Despite these likable facets of the film, it would disingenuous to suggest it’s a must-see feature. Although effective, its scares are far from the scariest and its twists not exactly the twistiest. It’s an above average horror-thriller but lacks the smarts or depth of something like You’re Next or Cheap Thrills. And although it’s a perfectly functional film, it lacks a human element. Our young couple never really do anything bad or controversial enough to even vaguely justify the punishment they receive throughout the course of the film, but having said that, I wasn’t quite engaged enough with them to really get worked up when things go badly for them. Still, In Fear is decent and enjoyable enough film whose ability to do quite a lot with very little should serve as a useful entry to Lovering’s CV when the time comes to launch future projects.

In Fear is released across the UK on November 15th

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