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Review: In Fear, directed by Jeremy Lovering (Sundance 2013)

Jan. 30, 2013by: Chris Bumbray

PLOT: Tom (Iain De Caestecker) is eager to impress his new girlfriend Lucy (Alice Englert), so- on the way to a music festival in Ireland, he suggests they spend a romantic evening at a luxury hotel. While trying to find it, the two end up getting hopelessly lost in a maze of back roads. Their patience with each other wearing thin, theyíre horrified to discover that being lost is the least of their worries- as theyíre not aloneÖ

REVIEW: When it comes to horror, in my book smaller is always better. One of the good things about lower-budget/indie horror movies, is that the filmmakers, if theyíre truly creative, learn to make do with the less is more approach. Think of Spielberg being stuck with a shark that didnít work for JAWS. Would the film have been better with a scary, working shark? Nope.

For a film like IN FEAR, this approach is pitch-perfect, as what else do you really need besides a guy, a girl, a car, and some moody scenery? IN FEAR is super-contained- both aesthetically, and in terms of the story it tells, with director Jeremy Lovering rarely straying from the car that houses our two characters, And when he does- they donít go far.

While narratively, itís maybe a bit thin (couple gets lost- and bickers), IN FEAR really works because Lovering knows how to build suspense beautifully. Before anything creepy starts to happen, weíve already gotten to know, and like the two leads. The moody Irish scenery also helps, with the back roads looking appropriately foreboding and scary.

One of the most novel things about IN FEAR is that the two actors, Caestecker and Englert, arenít necessarily pretending to be scared. Apparently, a lot of the action was improvised, with neither knowing the fate of their characters until just before it was shot. Thatís one way to keep your actors on their toes! Caestecker, and especially Englert look absolutely petrified throughout, and once the scares start Lovering really puts them through the wringer, ratcheting up the scares more and more- leading to a devastating conclusion. Loveringís style is excellent with the gloomy DV cinematography, and cool minimalist score. The running time- a mere 85 minutes, is taut and tight- just the way I like my horror movies.

I realize I probably havenít said a whole lot about what makes IN FEAR scary, but thatís because Iím trying really hard to avoid any kind of spoilers. You really need to walk into IN FEAR the same way the actors did- as a blank slate. Thereís a twist about mid-way through, but if I let you know what it is, it would utterly spoil the film. You can trust me though- IN FEAR is a scary little ride, and a good horror sleeper. This is a great film to watch curled up with a date on a dark and stormy night. One thingís for sure- you wonít be eager to go on any road trips right after.

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