In Fear is a psychological thriller that plays be every rule you would expect, given the set-up, yet still manages to deliver a memorable experience. It doesn’t offer too much in the way of breaking out of the mold or in plot innovation, but where it excels is by offering up a flawless example of exactly how well this trope can be built.
What could easily have been a bland, by-the-numbers thriller is elevated by the direction and performances involved, turning a familiar plot into a situation steeped in a tightly-wrought atmosphere.
The premise is simple – a young couple are vacationing (in this case, an English couple taking a weekend trip in Ireland), and find themselves lost on the way to a secluded hotel for the evening. Bad directions, confusing signs and a labyrinth of backroads leave them completely turned around, helpless, and running short on fuel. That’s when (you guessed it) they are suddenly preyed upon by an unseen tormentor, seemingly reveling in their helplessness and taking every opportunity to make a bad situation worse.
You’ve heard it all before, no doubt. That part is nothing new. What makes Jeremy Lovering’s film different from so many in this subgenre is the flawless tension building throughout the story. Tight shots, tense, broken dialogue and an ever-growing urgency and need to escape contribute immensely to the claustrophobic atmosphere that will leave you squirming in your seat.
Everyone has their different buttons, and this one just happened to hit one of mine. The claustrophobic nature of the film (enunciated by the actors’ performances and the tight cinematography), sent my anxiety meter over the top. Even though the film didn’t really hit any beats that I wasn’t expecting, it was still a tense experience just due to the execution. It’s a fantastic example of how the work going into a product is just as important as the product itself. In Fear is terrifying, despite its rather formulaic plot. It’s not so much what story points were used, but how they were arrived at that makes this film memorable.
Ian De Caestecker and Alice Englert are both effective in their respective roles, embodying first the uncertainty of a new relationship and then later, the mounting frustration and fear resulting from the situation they haplessly find themselves in. Their delivery was spot-on in heightening an already tense scenario, making it feel both natural and realistic. They helped to bring you into the car with them, away from the safety of your couch, and into this tense nightmare.
In Fear is one that I definitely recommend you check out. There are some very tense moments that will make you never want to get lost again, and it is an excellent exercise in the importance of execution when approaching a common storyline.