In Fear – director Jeremy Lovering’s first foray into feature films – wowed audiences at FrightFest this year and is an undeniably mature debut. Shot on a shoestring budget, the film follows two very recently acquainted lovers who have decided to attend a festival in Ireland. The romantic in Tom (Iain De Caestecker) has had the foresight to book the couple a hotel room in a picturesque location before they go to the jamboree, and although Lucy (Alice Englert) has her reservations (both at the festival campsite and morally) they head off to the Kilairney House Hotel.
Very quickly the beauty of the Irish countryside turns to eeriness as the hapless couple realise the signs to the hotel are actually leading them around in circles. They drive around a forest whimpering as night falls and strange things start to happen. In Fear quickly descends into the quintessential “nutter in the wilderness” film that it has set up its audience for, and yet, cometh the nutter, cometh disappointment. Max (Allen Leech) is dismally un-diabolical as the film’s antagonist and lacks the prerequisite instability expected of a psychopathic Irish hick.
The main problem with this horror flick is just how little time its audience spends “in fear”. A premise such as this should be truly electrifying in its pace and vicissitudes and yet there are very few bone-chilling moments. The way Max is handled is certainly partly to blame for this: he does not come across as a psychopath – but rather as a maniac. Without that unhinged glint in his eye he seems normal – boring even, an Irishman setting up a more personalised, mobile version of Straw Dogs, simply because he has nothing better to do.
There may well be some quite interesting subtext about UK/Ireland relations and England/Scotland relations, as Tom is a Scot and Lucy is English, however, this is unfortunately untapped and the only thing a viewer can really infer, regarding the relationships between nations of the British Isles, is that everyone residing within them is rather homely and bumbling, and that perhaps we should leave the horror to our American and European cousins.
In Fear would be a worthy debut for anyone and although it does reach the terrifying standards of comparable films such as 2005’s Wolf Creek, it is a beautifully filmed, exciting (though not at all scary) romp in rural Ireland.
Guy de Vito
In Fear is released nationwide on 15th November 2013.
Watch the trailer for In Fear here: