In Fear is a low budget, low running-time chiller from writer-director Jeremy Lovering. The set up suggests this may be Wolf Creek in Ireland but the intelligence insulting plot, illogical character decisions and clichéd performances will leave the audience more frustrated than unsettled.”
After a creepy and unnerving credits sequence we are given the back-story to our protagonists over an answering machine message. Tom (Iain De Caestecker) a young Scot meets Lucy (Alice Englert) in a London bar. He asks her to bring some friends and come along to a festival in Ireland. We then cut to a non-descript Irish hell hole where Tom drags Alice out in a hurry after some unrevealed incident with the local townsfolk. Tom reveals he has booked a hotel for one night before the festival so the couple can get to know each other better. After some baffling booking instructions, Tom reveals he is to follow a hotel worker’s van to the location. The couple are brought further and further away from civilisation and are caught in a back-roads maze where they can’t find the hotel – or their way out. Horror movie stuff ensues.
This is pretty by the book slasher-movie affair. The plot points that lead the characters into the life or death predicament make no sense. There are hints at something a little more nuanced and interesting but the script resorts to cliché after cliché. At no stage does a character suggest calling any emergency services for help despite both having fully functioning phones. There is also an establishing shot of the rented car’s satellite navigation which loses its signal only shown later to be fully functioning later in the film. The film makers’ lack of attention to detail not only insults the audience’s intelligence but undermines its characters and plot.
The performances are gauged on who can look the most scared and there is little or no depth given to these characters. De Caestecker is an affable and charming lead who ends up emasculated, powerless and weak which is refreshing but under-developed. Alice Englert is little more than a shrieking and blubbering character which is a sad archetype in this genre. There is nearly something interesting explored here – especially when a character gets to decide who lives and who dies – yet the moment is wasted and never explored. The movie ‘monster’ played by Allen Leech hints at a villain that is something more than a sadist. Max is a lonely weirdo living in the countryside waiting for someone to come along to put him out of his misery through sadistic and cruel games. However, these more interesting elements are ignored for the ridiculous. Max is seemingly able to move about this maze with supernatural ease and efficiency and become just another movie monster.
Irish audiences will be insulted by this portrayal of the countryside. Bord Fáilte will certainly be less than pleased with this representation of the hospitality sector. Our pubs are full of hostile yokels and our country hotels are non existent and a lure for homicidal whackos. They can take solace however in the knowledge that the film was shot in Cornwall (according to IMDb) and bares no resemblance to real Irish locations. The film makers don’t even bother putting Irish registration plates on the cars – of which there are many, which again is careless. In Fear seemingly attempts to do for Ireland what isolated motels did for Psycho, but audiences who are paying attention will recognise the inaccuracies.
Writer-director Lovering (who has directed the first episode of the new season of Sherlock) is not interested in realism or logic. The plot is loose and thin and barely provided to set up non existent shocks and horrors. Wolf Creek which bares a similar plot has its flaws but at least established a logical series of events that lead our characters to their doom. This doesn’t even bother – so why should we care? The film-makers want us to be ‘In Fear’, but you’ll just be left feeling ‘In Different’.