Dir: Jeremy Lovering
Opening with an answer phone message from Tom (Iain De Caestecker) to Lucy (Alice Englert) In Fear sets up a new relationship in a few deft lines. An invitation to a music festival from a young man to a young lady and a naive, sexually tinged trip through Cornwall and Devon (acting as Ireland) begins. But not before a ballsy suggested surprise hotel stop off in the lush greenery by Tom. Filled with tree-lined roads, lit by headlights and misleading road signs, director Jeremy Lovering and his improvised script infuses In Fear with a tone influenced by, but far removed from, Deliverance and Straw Dogs to deliver a smart, claustrophobic stalker film which uses a new relationship as an analogy for a lost in the woods horror film.
Without GPS and no long history to fall back on Lovering lets De Caestecker and Englert improv to both good and bad effect while they are terrorised on the dark Irish roads by a masked figure. The dialogue sometimes hits a nerve (in a bad way) once we get to the hysterical middle section when Lovering introduces another terrorised tourist named Max (Allen Leach) but cinematographer David Katznelson does well keeping the focus off the more uncomfortably written moments by turning the interior of a car into a pressure cooker.
TV director Lovering has a knack for tension and a flair for set pieces but In Fear feels, in retrospect, like it never truly touches on anything new. Admirably restricted, the film is certainly taught if a little sparse, such is the risk in taking a largely improvised script to the screen in such a bare bones story. Surely Bobcat Goldthwait‘s Willow Creek is the years highpoint in ad-libbed terror with the found footage format enhancing two fantastic performances from Alexie Gilmore and Bryce Johnson. In Fear has the bravado to go for a final act twist which arguably misses the mark but all in all, despite its bumps in the road, it’s a prickly and enjoyable road trip.