A young couple get lost in the Irish countryside while attempting to find their ‘slice of paradise’ hotel. Their trip then descends into a nightmare as they’re stalked by persons unknown for no apparent reason. That’s the set-up for In Fear, a highly effective 2013 horror from writer/director Jeremy Lovering.
High concept horror films are always hit and miss, but Lovering manages to wring some serious tension from his premise. In Fear is effectively a two-hander between Iain De Caestecker and Alice Englert, as the young couple celebrating their ‘two week anniversary’. Both are spot-on, sharing great chemistry and delivering naturalist performances. Apparently Lovering shot the film in chronological order and frightened his stars for real, helping to add some authenticity to proceedings. We get to see the couple’s fledgling relationship begin to fall apart as the stress of the situation begins to kick in.
For the most part Lovering keeps things moving along at a great pace. Admittedly, it all begins to fall apart in the last act with the appearance of Downton Abbey’s Allen Leech. Leech plays a mysterious stranger who may or may not be part of the plan to terrorize the couple. Leech’s performance feels a bit out of place as his broad acting style clashes against the subtlety that De Caestecker and Englert have delivered for the majority of the film. Suddenly things go from feeling very real to feeling very contrived. It’s not that Leech is bad, he’s just miscast.
Overall, In Fear is a horror movie that stands out from the usual crop. It’s well made and well acted, achieving success in all the right areas. It riffs on Straw Dogs, Deliverance, Southern Comfort and The Blair Witch Project (thankfully without the found footage concept), and for once it doesn’t come across as a cheap imitation of those films, Lovering’s film feels fresh.