For a first-time feature director, Jeremy Lovering is nothing if not bold. It’s one thing that his Ireland-set psychological-horror movie makes chillingly effective use of its minimal resources. But then there’s the trial he put his actors through during a shoot that might raise an eyebrow or two at Equity…
Using a technique pioneered by Ken Loach, Lovering shot in sequence and kept the script a secret, not telling leads Alice Englert and Iain De Caestecker (as terrified young couple Lucy and Tom) what was in store for them. If they look scared out of their wits, it’s probably because they are.
Tom, who’s known Lucy for only two weeks, invites her to a music festival in Ireland and, further chancing his arm, books them for what he hopes will be a romantic night in a remote country hotel.
But with night and rain falling, and the direction signs leading them round in endless circles of tunnel-like sunken roads, it starts to seem that someone – or something – in the encroaching woods is out to get them. Panic mounts as they hurtle down the narrow tracks, and when they stop, fearing that they may have hit somebody, things start to get really serious...
In Fear makes eerily potent use of landscape (in fact Bodmin Moor in Devon and the nearby Cornish woods). The audio also ratchets up the tension – Roly Porter and Daniel Pemberton’s growling, throbbing score, plus the nerve-twitching sound design.
Up-and-comers Englert (Beautiful Creatures) and De Caestecker (Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.) ring horribly true as the couple whose burgeoning relationship cracks apart as the fear takes hold, with Allen Leech (Downton Abbey) as the mysterious third party whose arrival adds a few extra turns of the screw.
A feral prowl round the edges of our discomfort zones, In Fear shows what can be done with three actors, a car and a shedload of ingenuity.
A taut, chilling little horror-thriller making maximum use of minimal resources to tap into our primal fears of the unknown. Plus shredded-nerve turns from an (evidently) adaptable cast.