TV veteran Jeremy Lovering’s feature film debut In Fear effectively draws on moody British landscapes to construct a flawed, but chilling study of primal terror. On their way to a music festival, new young couple Lucy (Alice Englert) and Tom (Iain De Caestecker) plan to spend a romantic night at a countryside hotel. But misleading signs pointing in contradictory directions lead them in circles, and as night falls they seem unable to find their way back to the main road. Lost in an infernal maze in pitch-black darkness, they begin to believe that there is someone out there threatening them. Unbalanced by frustration, fear and paranoia, Tom and Lucy are pushed to their limits by the taunts of their invisible tormentor, and what they believe is their fight for survival.
Lovering revealed as little of the script as he could to his two leads during shooting, which results in intense, raw performances, especially from Englert, who seems genuinely terrified. The minimal set-up explores the way in which the characters are manipulated into extreme behaviour by an enigmatic figure playing cruel games – interestingly, it is fear that is the trigger for violence here, rather than the other way around. Lovering skilfully creates a potent atmosphere of surreal dread, brilliantly supported by Roly Porter and Daniel Pemberton‘s excellent soundtrack. All in all, however, the film feels a little slight, requiring a fair amount of the audience’s good will in order to work, and the conclusion is an unsatisfactory unravelling of the tension that had been so tightly wound up.
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