Graffiti on Bathroom Wall: “IF A MAN HURTS AN INNOCENT PERSON, THE EVIL WILL FALL BACK UPON HIM AND THE FOOL WILL BE DESTROYED”
Lucy: “We’re not lost—we’re in a fucking maze!”
Recently release on DVD, In Fear is a skillfully crafted Horror movie written and directed by Jeremy Lovering. For a film with only 3 speaking roles (and only half a dozen extras) that takes place almost entirely inside a car, In Fear packs a mighty wallop.
Read my review after the jump.
Official Synopsis: Driving, lost and tormented in the night, primal fears of the dark and the unknown give way to fear that you have let the evil in, or that it is already there.
At the risk of sounding utterly ridiculous (and gross), I have a theory about Horror movies and toilets. Every time a character is shown sitting on the commode (especially female characters) it’s meant to illicit subconscious fears of vulnerability. Feel free to disagree, but keep my theory in mind when viewing In Fear (and numerous other Horror offerings).
In Fear (which could have been titled The Absolute Worst First Date in History) is the definition of “Slow-Burn Horror”. Tom (Ian De Caestecker) convinces Lucy (Alice Englert) to join him for a trip to a music festival in rural Ireland. There’s a natural, shy-but-flirtatious chemistry between the young 20-somethings that feels completely genuine. When the sexual tension becomes obvious, Tom suggests they stop for the night at an out-of-the-way inn called Kilairney House. It’s a decision they will both regret for the rest of their lives.
While en route, Lucy and the viewers are struck by the melancholic beauty of the Irish countryside: Its rolling emerald hills, gray skies, and “sad” fields. Soon, however, the carefree couple find themselves driving through a labyrinth of narrow back-roads; signs pointing to Kilairney contradict computer-mapped directions and attempts to back-track lead them in circles. We’ve all been there, right? Trying to find someplace new, putting our faith in maps and GPS gadgets, only to become hopelessly befuddled. It can be extremely frustrating. As daylight fades, this predicament certainly puts a damper on the possibility of a budding romance.
It isn’t long before nerves become raw and frayed as Tom and Lucy struggle to maintain composure. We as viewers know it won’t be long before they start second-guessing and screaming at each other. It’s this bubbling-up of emotions that unnerves and pushes us to the edge of our seats. Lucy suspects that someone is purposely tormenting them and asks Tom about an interaction he had with some locals back at a pub. Tom doesn’t want to talk about it. Is this the key to the couple’s quandary or simply a distracting red herring? For a time, I was even willing to entertain the idea of a supernatural phenomenon, detecting echoes of Dead End and Lost Highway.
As utter darkness descends and gas runs low, characters and viewers are completely wound up. It’s when this hyper-tense state nears a boiling point that Lovering finally allows the real terror to descend—and with such a nerve-wracking build-up it really doesn’t take much. A scarecrow, a forehead gash, a single poignant snapping of bone—these simple devices are enough to send us reeling.
Storytelling and great acting are keys to In Fear’s success. Yes, the mood is uncomfortably tense throughout, but Lovering’s script inspires copious curiosity as well. Lucy’s comment about being trapped in a maze seems suddenly steeped in subtext. If it is a maze, then they’re the rats. And if they’re the rats, then who is the mad scientist at the helm of this twisted experiment? What results is this mental torture designed to induce?
It’s difficult to compare In Fear to other films as I’m at a loss to think of one that neatly parallels this uniquely captivating piece of cinema. Still, there are detectable similarities to Dead End, Penny Dreadful, The Hitcher, The Strangers, and the French movie Them. There’s even a sprinkle of The Hills Have Eyes and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The beauty of In Fear (in comparison to these other films) is that it does so much with so little. With a conclusion that had me immediately starting the DVD over again to reabsorb crucial elements from the opening scenes, In Fear is stimulation for the mind and the senses.
Immature aficionados will no doubt complain that In Fear is slow and lacks resolution, but evolved Horror fans will recognize what a taught and well-crafted film it is. By the way, I Googled “Kilairney House” to see if the name was somehow symbolic, and was most amused by the results. I suggest you do the same, but you need to have seen the film to truly appreciate it.
3.5 out of 5 Skull Heads.
|Release Date||March 7 2014|
|Starring||Alice Englert, Allen Leech, Iain De Caestecker|