In Fear (2013)

Directed By: Jeremy Lovering
Directed By:
Starring: Iain De Caestecker
  Alice Englert
  Allen Leech
In Fear

In Fear is startlingly simple in its premise and highly effective in its bare-bones execution. A British made masterclass in tension, In Fear consists of three actors, one car and a buttload of claustrophobic tautness.

As far as storylines go, it really doesn’t get any more simple than this; introduced via an answer phone message that tells us everything we need to know, Tom decides to book a romantic break for himself and Lucy, the girl he hopes will become his girlfriend. Iain De Caestecker and Alice Englert make a believable pairing and their mutual attraction and apprehension is both obvious and rather charming. The film rests squarely on their young shoulders but thankfully they don’t disappoint.

The couple hop in a car and start their journey to a country getaway in rural Ireland, their eventual destination being a music festival, getting hopelessly and terrifyingly lost on the way. With darkness drawing in and petrol running out, it becomes increasingly obvious that they might not be alone, and that their mysterious, unseen companion may have more to do with their unexpected detour than they could ever have suspected.

The core believability of In Fear could well be, in large part, down to director Jeremy Lovering‘s decision to neglect to tell his cast about important plot points, thus securing organic reactions and genuine fear. It’s a bold and arrogant move, and I imagine that not every actor would have been quite as willing, but our leads here throw themselves into the fray with abandonment and the results are very, very effective. When they’re scared, they’re *really* scared, and when they’re angry, they’re primally so.

The sparse, melancholic, occasionally abrasive score ensures we’re on the edge of our seats when necessary and never intrudes too much, thankfully. It assists with the jumps but never feels over wrought or exploitative of our emotions.

Although an accomplished exercise in minimal terror, In Fear is not without its flaws. Of the two main characters there’s only really one you’ll empathise with, and during the rather flabby mid-section the wafer thin concept is stretched to its very limits. There’s also a real lack of any comprehensible reasoning in its conclusion, but that will only bother you if you’re a fan of neatly tied endings and villains that require a backstory.

In Fear is a film best seen with the lights down low. It’s gripping, well acted and well executed, and while not perfect, is a testament to what can be achieved on a shoestring budget with no special effects, buckets of gore or cheap scares in sight.

Rating: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

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