With Thor: The Dark World and Gravity opening in the last couple of weeks their has been no let up from the summer blockbusters before the big autumn/winter movies come out. During this time it is often hard to find smaller releases, but they are often worth hunting out. I am not just talking about documentaries and art house movies, but low budget genre movies that have failed to receive a wide release. One such film is Jeremy Lovering’s micro budget In Fear. Shot two years ago before star Alice Englert’s mainstream debut Beautiful Creatures, it premiered at Sundance “Spotlight, Park City at Midnight” and has just received a limited UK release.
Two weeks after meeting Tom (Iain De Caestecker) invites Lucy (Alice Englert) to a music festival in Ireland. On their way to meet friends Tom announces that he has booked a hotel for the night before the festival starts. Lucy is a little unsure at first but is won over by the romantic gesture. On the way to the hotel the pair get lost in maze of country roads. There really isn’t any more I can say without revealing too much of the plot.
There aren’t that many really scary moments. Instead the movie is full of tension that gradually builds as the movie develops. The story is beautifully simple, it is the audacity of this simplicity that makes it a rare treat for horror fans. The cynical may dismiss it as something they have seen before and those who aren’t fans of the genre just won’t get it. For the rest of us it is a perfectly executed movie made with the confidence to know when to show its hand without being tempted to dilute its central idea. Both in themes and visuals it is full of cues to other movies that I won’t name through fear of giving too much away.
You could describe the way the movie was shot as experimental, writer director Jeremy Lovering kept the script and story from the cast only telling them what they would be filming a day at a time. The scenes were then often improvised to capture genuine shock and surprise from the young cast. On the whole this works well and the cast is excellent: Alice Englert (Daughter of Jane Campion recently seen in Beautiful Creatures (2013) and Ginger & Rosa Ginger & Rosa (2012)), Iain De Caestecker (who can currently be seen on TV in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) and Allen Leech (Downton Abbey). They are all the perfect blend of relatively unknown but vaguely recognisable actors. They let us as an audience invest just enough in the characters to care what is happening to them but keeping them at just enough of a distance to let the filmmakers push all the right buttons.
There isn’t anything new or original about the plot, but that really isn’t a problem. There are times when the Irish (although shot in England) setting is reminiscent of the American backwoods so often used in American movies. To see this idea played out in a familiar setting closer to home is both refreshing and unnerving. Horror fans please make an effort to check it out. The more people who watch smaller movies like this at the cinema, the easier it will be for them to get funding and distribution.