By: Addison Wylie
In Fear marks the first time in a while where a film has really scared me using traditional minimalist tactics.
We’re paired with Tom and Lucy – a complicated couple played by Iain De Caestecker and Alice Englert – as they head towards a secluded hotel via their tiny vehicle. The search for the hotel brings them deeper into the woods and directional signs send them on a wild goose chase as the sun sets and the rain pours. Shadows grow, the roads get more twisted, and Lucy swears she sees an ominous masked figure following them.
Jeremy Lovering’s thriller/horror uses its closed in environments to rev up the film’s sense of claustrophobia. Lovering knows how to take the themes of uncertainty and being lost and creates a creepy atmosphere with the odd jump scare peppered into the flow.
What I was really impressed with was Lovering’s skill for repetition and having that ability of acknowledging when a scare is running its course. None of what scares Lucy or Tom is overdone. There’s a perfect number of moments of an abandoned Englert waiting for Caestecker to return while the camera stays stationary in the muddy forest. In Fear carefully captures the stillness around her and hints at what could be stalking nearby.
Lovering – for the most part – works vagueness in his favour, leaving our thoughts to materialize evil details. However, when the mind games take on a more hands-on sadist nature, I wouldn’t have minded more insight into the perpetrator’s head.
A good chunk of filmmakers tend to think that leaving grim motivations untouched adds more bizarreness to a villain. That really only applies to supernatural, insane, or monstrous creatures. When the baddie is outside that group, it feels as if the filmmaker is taking the easy way out by qualifying the bad guy as simply “crazy”.
I’m afraid that’s the case with In Fear’s final act. The desperation and panic portrayed is terrifying, but it feels as if Lovering and his cast could’ve dug a bit deeper.
In Fear’s cover isn’t completely blown because of that quibble though. Jeremy Lovering’s small scale movie is highly effective and had me clutching the arm of my chair more than once. The creepy musical score does wonderful things with startling, low riding hums. And, for a film that primarily takes place in or around a car, In Fear has arresting cinematography and chilling close-ups during those more paranoid sequences.
If this is what Jeremy Lovering is capable of within tight confines, just think of what he could do on a larger scale.