DVD Review: In Fear

Published on March 14th, 2014 in: DVD, DVD/Blu-Ray Reviews, Horror, Movie Reviews, Movies, Reviews |

By Less Lee Moore

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Maybe I’ve watched too many horror movies or I’m just exceptionally paranoid, but I can absolutely relate to the slowly creeping terror experienced by the protagonists at the beginning of In Fear. Tom (Iain De Caestecker) and Lucy (Alice Englert) are a young couple on their way to a music festival who decide to stop at what they think is a quaint hotel on the way. And of course, with a title like In Fear, you can probably figure out pretty quickly that their plans go terribly awry.

The events begin in the daytime, but even then, getting lost in a maze of trees, hedges, and signs on their way to the hotel proves to be unsettling. Unfortunately, the film’s inability to decide upon which side of the bad guy fence it wants to reside renders the second half of the movie less than effective.

In Fear provides false clues towards the beginning so that the audience isn’t sure who is terrorizing Tom and Lucy. This is when the movie works best. From Lucy feeling her hair being pulled to Tom’s car alarm mysteriously being triggered to a shadowy figure wearing a surgical mask, In Fear sets up a spooky atmosphere very well. Tom’s refusal to elaborate upon what happened when some local toughs harassed him in a pub and Lucy’s hesitancy to trust someone she’s only known for two weeks converge in an ongoing narrative thread of suspicion that helps increase the scare factor. When they run into Max (literally), they finally feel like they have a handle on what’s been happening.

If you’ve seen enough horror movies, you’ll be able to immediately tell that Max—who claims he’s being stalked by the same guys who are terrorizing Tom and Lucy—is not only lying, but also controlling the situation. Unfortunately, Max seems to possess extraordinary powers like the ability to complete complex tasks with lightning efficiency and be in two places at once. This undercuts his malevolence considerably as it’s difficult to suspend disbelief long enough to believe he constructed the elaborate murder device he uses on Tom in such a short period of time.

If Max had been more obviously otherworldly or more discernibly human, In Fear could have been absolutely chilling. Instead, it just feels like it’s taking narrative shortcuts to amplify scares regardless of whether or not these things could happen within the world of the film.

Lucy screams, “What do you want from me?” quite a bit towards the end of the film and viewers may find themselves asking the same question. Without a clear-cut motive, Max’s machinations come across as frustrating rather than frightening. He comes across more like an annoying bully than a possibly superhuman force and so his schemes ultimately feel hollow and don’t have the impact that the filmmakers may have intended. On the other hand, it’s refreshing to see a horror film that doesn’t try to explain everything.

One thing that I did appreciate about In Fear was that as much as it pits Tom against Max, it’s really Lucy’s movie. Englert does a great job of conveying that particularly female fear of being manipulated by men without coming across as the token damsel in distress. First time writer/director Jeremy Lovering doesn’t sexualize Max’s terror campaign against Lucy, which is another nice change from the norm. Despite plenty of flaws, In Fear has some good points, too so it will be interesting to see what Lovering does next.

In Fear was released on DVD via Anchor Bay Films on March 11. The DVD includes a featurette called “In Fear: Behind The Scenes.”

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