Monday 10 March 2014

IN FEAR (2013)

Directed by Jeremy Lovering, Starring: Iain De Caestecker, Alice Englert, Allen Leach. Horror, UK, 2013, 82mins, cert 15.

Released in the UK on DVD and Blu-ray by  on 10th March 2014.

Tom (Iain De Caestecker), and his girlfriend Lucy (Alice Englert) are heading to a music festival in Ireland. To celebrate their ‘two-week anniversary” Tom takes a risk and books a night in a remote luxury hotel on route. Driving down the labyrinthian country roads, the signs to the hotel seem to be directing the couple into an increasingly dark and threatening wooded maze.

Writer / director Jeremy Lovering’s feature-film debut is a sharp, efficient suspenser which takes well-worn horror tropes and creates a genuine sense of increasing dread. Taking his cue from THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, director Lovering deliberately withheld key elements of the script from his two leads. This decision pays off handsomely as both convey very real fear with their (often genuine reactions) as their initial exasperation at getting lost transforms as the daylight fades into apprehension and then to very real terror.

Filmed in locations on Bodmin Moor, Cornwall, the ‘scope photography beautifully reflects the emotional journey of the characters as picturesque scenery is gradually replaced by barren open moors and then darkened foreboding woodland lanes. Equally effective is the music and sound design, again perfectly complementing this journey from optimism and light into the nightmare of primal fears. 

Both De Caestecker (currently in Marvel’s AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. TV series) and Englert (BEAUTIFUL CREATURES) give sympathetic performances as the young couple, and their escalating unease is both credible and involving.

But eventually director Lovering has to show his hand and let both his actors and the audience in on the secret. Given the fact that the previous 45 minutes have so effectively crafted a fear of the unknown, it’s almost inevitable that once that unknown becomes known, the tension dissipates and the grip loosens. The film does still have one nasty surprise up its sleeve, but as the end-credits roll the overall feeling is ultimately one of slight disappointment. It’s a shame, because for the most part this proves to be an effective, clinical and claustrophobic study in fear.

Extras: Audio commentary, Behind the Scenes Documentary, Stills Gallery, Music from and inspired by In Fear by Roly Porter, Trailer.

*** (out of 5*)

Paul Worts