In Fear (2013)
(15) Running time: 85 minutes
Director: Jeremy Lovering
Writer: Jeremy Lovering
Cast: Iain De Caestecker, Alice Englert, Allen Leech
Reviewed by: Matt Wavish
In Fear came to FrightFest with a reputation of being one of the best British horror films of the year, and that it was a tense, terrifying film guaranteed to have you on the edge of your seat. I can confirm that Jeremy Lovering’s debut feature length film does indeed live up to all the hype, and then some! In Fear is a chilling, bare bones horror that delivers all sorts of vicious scares and it’s very doubtful you will need anything but the edge of your seat while watching it.
Tom (Caestecker) and Lucy (Englert) are heading to a music festival when Tom springs the news on Lucy that he has other plans, and has decided to take her to a hotel for a romantic night. Slightly annoyed as they were meeting friends, Lucy eventually agrees and the pair set off happy and madly in love. A stop off at a country pub hints at dark times ahead as Lucy finds some rather disgusting graffiti on the toilet wall, before noticing a peep hole as well. Tom on the other hand has had an altercation with some of the locals, something Tom hides from Lucy until later on. Believing all to be well, and fully fed and watered, the lovers set off once again in search of their secluded getaway.
A driver working for the hotel agrees to meet the couple in the country, and with the hotel being difficult to find, he will show them the way. Tom follows, the pair smiling and happy, until the leading driver stops, waves them on and drives off. Confused, Tom continues through narrow country lanes following the signs to the hotel, but the signs send them round in circles, and tensions rise as the pair become lost. With night falling and petrol running low, tensions turn to panic, and panic turns to fear, real fear. With no satnav signal and no phone signal, the pair are in the middle of nowhere completely lost and with no signs of getting out. The country lanes are incredibly narrow, and in some instances Tom’s car can barely fit through, sometimes he even has to make dangerous manoeuvres to reverse out. I have been in a situation like this, and I can tell you it is a little nerve jangling if you do not know where you are going, and with night approaching, you can totally appreciate why the couple begin shouting.
However, driving past the same run down caravan (which is 100% UN-inviting) over and over, and beginning to think someone is intentionally playing with the hotel signs, the couple start thinking up scenarios of what might be happening. At one point they leave the car to head off on foot, only to rush back to the car after the alarm is set off by persons unknown. Later, Lucy freaks out believing someone was stood in a field watching them, and both become absolutely terrified.
What makes In Fear really work is the genuine, real fear portrayed by the two actors which comes from director Lovering not being forthcoming in what they will be asked to do. Using the same techniques applied for The Blair Witch Project, Lovering kept most of his plans secret, and his lead actors did not know exactly what was going on. Lovering’s reasons for this? He said that he wanted to capture real fear from his cast, and he most certainly achieves that. Watching this terrifying film, and knowing that most of the reactions from Caestecker and Englert were actually genuine, add real depth and power to the film.
I cannot go into any more details for risk of spoiling things, and to get the most enjoyment from the film, it is best to know as little about what happens as possible. Just accept that yes these two lovers do get lost while driving in the deep country, and the rest I urge you to find out for yourself. In Fear is a terrific slice of homegrown horror, and the film delivers nail biting suspense and nerve shredding terror as the tension builds and builds. It is a good idea to remember to breathe while watching this film, because there is some seriously scary stuff here, made all the more powerful by the exceptional performances and tight yet restrained plot. Lovering perfectly captures the fear of being lost in the wilderness, and tortures us with vicious plot devices to the point of a nervous breakdown.
I spent the majority of the film hovering over the edge of my seat for two reasons. Firstly, the fact the film is so damn tense means it is impossible to sit back and relax, and the second reason is that I was in total awe of a brilliant new British horror talent who effortlessly delivers one of the best horror flicks of the year. Real, ferocious and terrifying, In Fear will put your nerves to the test, and if you can survive this film, you will come out the other end a much stronger individual. This film is a test, a test of nerves, and a test of endurance, and for fans of tight, dark and very serious cinema, you won’t get much better than this.