Tom (Iain De Caestecker) invites Lucy (Alice Englert), his girlfriend of two weeks to a music festival in Ireland. They arrive a day early, so Tom books them into a romantic but remote hotel. While driving tiny country roads, the pair get lost, and it is not long before they realise that someone is in the darkness with them.
Writer/director Jeremy Lovering is a name to watch out for. Not only was he second unit director on Hot Fuzz, but he is the director of an upcoming episode of Sherlock. In Fear, however, is not a film that is going to make Lovering a household name.
The story is as thin as possible; two twenty somethings, lost on dark roads. It is not long before the couple – who we have never really learned to like – start bickering, and all audience sympathy dribbles away. There are some sweet moments between Iain De Caestecker and Alice Englert in the beginning, but she is jumpy and sullen, and he is almost cruel as she reveals her fears to him. De Caestecker and Englert try their best with what they are given, but the entire script ends up feeling like an improv class in a car, rather than a scripted horror film with any real characterisation.
Lovering builds the tension and paranoia quite nicely in the first act of the film, but once it peaks, it simply fades away, leaving the audience with characters that make ridiculous decisions for the sake of setting up scares, and spend the rest of the time bickering about directions. Very little time is given to developing characters or motivations, so when things do go wrong – as they are wont to do – the audience may find themselves wondering why they should care.
As well as this, the cinematography is one note for the entire film; shaky shot after shaky shot begin to grate after a while, as do the shots of the road as the couple drive. There is really nothing visually interesting about two people sitting side by side and arguing, if the cinematography is uninspired.
In all, In Fear is a lacklustre horror film that didn’t even scare me, and I’m a wuss. There are some good moments, but the plot is wildly silly and thin, and the villain – such as he is – does not seem to have any motivation, other than messing with people for the giggle. The entire film is set in a car, and there is only so much of this that can be watched before the audience loses interest. Seriously, if this sounds like fun to you, go on a road trip with a relative you have only met at family events, it will probably amount to the same.
I am still hopeful for Sherlock though.