Writer: Jeremy Lovering
Cast: Iain De Caestecker, Alice Englert
Running time: 85mins
The lowdown: Buckle up for a ride into terror with this gleefully scary British shocker. On their way to an Irish musical festival, a twenty something couple opt to check into a hotel for a night of getting-to-know-you nooky. But, as the countryside becomes a lethal maze, it rapidly grows apparent they are not intended to reach their destination. Writer/director Jeremy Lovering makes a confident debut with a stripped back, text book example in escalating dread. See it, just don’t see it alone.
The full verdict: Horror is a perfect genre for tackling grand themes. Life, death, the meaning of existence in the cold recesses of a pitiless universe…
But, sometimes you just want to climb aboard a slickly crafted fear engine and hurtle headlong to Fear Town.
Jeremy Lovering understands this and graduates from small screen directing gigs including episodes of Sherlock to the big screen with an assured, attention grabbing low-budget shocker.
The slender “don’t go into the woods alone” plot is so hoary there is actually a film bearing that name (once banned as a video nasty despite being balsa wood boring) and that the leads have names (Tom & Lucy) barely matters.
Lovering is making a horror film and understands exactly where to place the camera for maximum unease, employing the widescreen to surround the two leads and their low-on-petrol car in inky darkness as daylight dies in the threatening countryside (Cornwall doubling for Ireland).
He also employs the Blair Witch Project technique of shooting in sequence, revealing plot information piecemeal to leads De Caestecker and Englert (often only one of them) to keep them and their performances naturalistic and off-balance.
The effectiveness of this is up for debate (how scared can you be with a film crew feet away?), but both actors convey authentic, barely suppressed panic that spills over into outright terror guaranteed to get the heart racing.
Small moments involving a triggered car alarm or the couple coming across clothes strung up down a deserted country lane are first class examples of impactful, pocket-money horror set-pieces.
Like most movies with the sole mission statement of scaring the audience’s pants off, In Fear loses momentum and power when it has to get on with explaining the story and putting a face to its bogeyman.
Although the chills become more traditional they still hit hard, Lovering having fun with a nasty deployment of Game Theory to really test Tom and Lucy’s survival instincts.
Reminiscent of classic era John Carpenter, this is British horror at its ruthless, rural best.