At first glance In Fear is your run of the mill horror, you know the type; young couple on a weekend getaway take a few wrong turns, lose phone signal and before long are being stalked, harassed and terrified by an unseen foe. It’s bordering on cliché. Except In Fear is anything but clichéd, instead it’s a genuinely thrilling survival horror that builds slowly before racking up the intensity to nightmare inducing levels.
Said couple are Tom (Iain De Caestecker) and Lucy (Alice Englert), all of two weeks into the burgeoning relationship they’re heading to a music festival in Ireland to meet some friends. But as a romantic gesture Tom has booked them into a hotel. Following a jeep from the hotel who guides them to the property the couple soon find themselves lost without the aid of a sat-nav on windy country roads. Following the signs to the hotel only seems to take them deeper into the labyrinth and with darkness setting in it soon becomes clear that someone is watching their every move, manipulating and guiding them to a deadly climax.
In Fear demonstrates that when done properly horror is still the most evocative of genres. Rely on cheap gimmicks, overwrought gore and rug-pulling tactics and you won’t always scare. But, as is the case with In Fear, tell a chilling story using intelligent cinematic language to conjure terror in your audience and you are onto something truly brilliant.
The film builds ever so slowly, allowing us to get to know Tom and Lucy both of whom are distinct characters while never becoming horror movie staples. It then sets up a series of events that will have you questioning what you would do in a situation like this, suffice to say the film is always one step ahead of you.
But what makes In Fear stand out from the crowd is in its visuals. Shooting predominantly in Tom’s car, director Jeremy Lovering keeps everything tight on Tom and Lucy’s faces lending a sense of claustrophobia that builds as the woods engulf the car and the embankments of the roads grow ever higher. As with Jaws, Lovering allows the viewer’s imagination to create so much of the tension, always leaving tiny corners of shots aching for something to fill them forcing your attention there should something creep up. It almost never does and as such lures you into a false sense of security before springing smart and calculated scares. It’s a master class in atmospherics and utterly oppressive in the sense of dread it first conjures and then sustains throughout.
In Fear glues you to your seat, cowering with delightful horror as events gradually unfold. Dim the lights, grab a cushion and prepare to experience In Fear.