In Fear

In Fear

  • In Fear is an anxiety-inducing psychological horror film that disturbs the viewer for most of its run-time.
  • Which is no easy task, given that the film occurs almost entirely within a four-door sedan.
  • Actually, the enclosed setting might be why the movie works. Like the characters, we cannot predict what will happen next, because we cannot see the surrounding forest, and we do not understand the maze through which Tom (Ian De Caestaecker) and Lucy (Alice Englert) drive.
  • Our uncertainty breeds discomfort and anticipation.
  • Many of writer/director Jeremy Lovering’s other decisions do the same. His score is ominous.
  • Each time he reveals parts of the forest, he uses reserved lighting that accentuates angles, corners and edges, while also creating shadows. In so doing, he highlights the forest’s eeriness rather than its beauty.
  • Through the picture’s first three-fifths, Lovering shows the villain(s) only in rapid flashes, meaning we don’t even know how many there are.
  • The characters’ GPS and cellular signals fail. Yes, it is cliche, but, in this case, it is also effective. (That the GPS senselessly starts working near the end of the movie is certainly a minor flaw.)
  • In Fear’s audio is designed around natural sound effects, and like many of the visuals, it is disturbing.
  • Through all of these techniques, and more, Lovering creates an intimidating atmosphere, one that increases our nervousness.
  • The stars, Ian De Caestaecker and Alice Englert, help their director. Both actors capture their characters, showing Tom and Lucy’s strengths and weaknesses.
  • In fact, the actors explain much of In Fear’s success, because Lucy and Tom are stock characters, and we have seen them in other horror films. If the actors were not good enough to make them feel better developed than they actually are, the characters would be a significant flaw.
  • But the actors are good enough. Consider this trite example: when Lucy, at one point, says the two are not a couple, the subtle look on De Caestaecker’s face is almost heartbreaking.
  • For all of that, however, In Fear is imperfect, largely owing to an unsatisfying final act. The movie ends without explanation for the villain(s)’ behavior. We have no understanding why any of these events happen.
  • Which might be why In Fear is lite on theme, as it surely is, so much so that it is hard to identify its raison d’être.
  • The final, poorly-executed, mid-action jump cut to end credits doesn’t help either.
  • If not for its poor resolution, In Fear might have been a candidate for many end of year Top Ten lists.
  • With it, the picture is good. But not great.
  • Final Grade: B-
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8 thoughts on “In Fear

  1. I agree with you 100% and think this is the perfect grade – this movie has potential and essentially delivers but, in effect, it’s two people in a car for 90 minutes and then the ending just doesn’t work.

    B – is perfect.

    • Thank you.

      I was very disappointed in the end, and almost unfairly gave it a much lower grade. Then, as I was writing, I remembered all of the ways it made my heart pound with intense anxiety for the first 75 minutes; I’m choosing to prioritize those over the last 15. 🙂

  2. I’ve never even heard of this one! I might have to check it out now! I do really like De Caestecker on Agents on S.H.I.E.L.D. Wouldn’t mind seeing him in something else.

    • I think he’s fine in the show and much better here. So I’m guessing you’d like his performance.

      When (or if) if you see Ginger and Rosa, you’ll know Englert, too. (She plays Rosa.) She is very good in this movie, too.

  3. I agree 100%. This is truly a film that could have been on a whole other level, but it never gets to that point. It was either too short, or simply overcrowded in mystery to a point where it went too far. Wish it could have been on my top ten, but I’ll likely forget I even watched by the end of the year.

    • Were it not for the fact that I wrote a review, I might forget it, too. Which, as you say, is a shame. So much of it is so good. I wish it had a stronger ending.

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