In Fear (2013)

In FearHaving booked a room at Kilaidney House for himself and his girlfriend on their way to a music festival in Ireland, Tom (Iain De Caestecker) stops at a country pub where he has arranged to meet a representative from the hotel. Lucy (Alice Englert) returns from the toilet to an uneasy atmosphere, and they leave to find a Jeep waiting to show them the way. Pointed in the right direction they set off along a road unrecognised by their GPS, soon becoming lost in a maze of twisty rural lanes that all seem to lead back to the same place: a derelict cabin in the woods, where Lucy thinks she saw someone watching them.

From this synopsis a few inferences can be drawn, primarily due to the nature of the horror genre and the conventions that govern it. Firstly, something indeed happened in the pub and it will be directly linked to the pair’s predicament. Secondly, they are being brought back to the creepy cabin for a reason, and it will play an important role in the last act. Finally, of course there is someone or something watching them — in fact, there’s probably a number of individuals (or a supernatural element), explaining the presence at the cabin, the shadow mistaken for a scarecrow and whoever is driving the Jeep.

To both In Fear‘s credit and its eventual detriment, the film doesn’t play out as you might reasonably expect. For the first half at least first-time feature director Jeremy Lovering builds an uneasy and damn-near oppressive atmosphere as his leads disappear deeper and deeper into the maze, with both daylight and their supply of fuel steadily running out. He relies heavily on his cast to improvise their lines, and both De Caestecker and Englert rise to the challenge with performances that are at once pleasingly dramatic and believably naturalistic, revealing more about their characters as the pressure upon them is increased. The former plays his resident skeptic with just the right measure of doubt, while Englert does well to avoid repeating herself as she is spooked by an array of apparently inanimate objects.

Unfortunately, and like so many of its genre peers, the film lets both itself and its audience down in the final act. Double-takes and jump scares can only take you so far, and eventually Lovering has to play his full hand. We are finally introduced to Allen Leech’s character, and from this point on the tension is replaced by frustration as everything starts to fall apart. The film’s villain is unremarkable in the extreme, and like so many modern-day horrors the film has absolutely no sense of its own mythology. The hotel, the Jeep, the cabin — these are all details that are teased but never pursued or explained, resulting in a film that feels infuriatingly incomplete. The antagonist’s motivations, too, are vague and disappointingly dull, while his actions all but defy explanation.

In Fear is one of the scariest movies you will see this year, but it is also the most frustrating. Considering the work that has gone in to fleshing out the leads, making them unusually sympathetic and interesting for slasher victims, it’s a shame that the villain is so slight and insufficient. As it turns out, Tom and Lucy’s fear response is far more frightening than the thing they are supposedly responding to. Perhaps fittingly, given the title, if not fulfillingly.

3-Stars

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About popcornaddiction
I am a psychology graduate, a News Writer for HeyUGuys/BestforFilm and, most importantly, a hopeless popcorn addict.

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