I was fortunate enough to attend the London Sundance film festival recently at the O2 arena. Horror films weren’t represented in a big way but there was one independent psychological horror on offer called In Fear which naturally caught my attention.
Tom and Lucy, together in Tom’s car, are making their way to a music festival to join friends. They have only known each other for a two week period yet Tom is clearly smitten and wanting to impress. In an attempt to woo Lucy he surprises her with having cheekily pre-booked a hotel room located in the countryside on route to their destination. Not entirely convinced, Lucy agrees to the idea although somewhat reluctantly. After all, as a passenger in the middle of the British countryside with a guy she hardly knows, what choice does she have? Sneaky Tom.
As the pair make their way to the hotel, following signs that confuse and frustrate, they begin to realise that they are indeed lost. To make matters worse, Lucy begins to suspect something more sinister is at play…
I will say no more as to enjoy In Fear is to know very little in advance. Suffice to say, there are twists and red herrings abound. You may see some of them coming and some may feel slightly familiar, yet this matters little as you will be kept second guessing yourself and you will feel the fear. This fear is the films real strength. Not in the plotting, but in the execution. The direction is superb as we are kept mainly inside the car with Tom and Lucy as to revel in the claustrophobia and to feel their tension up close and personal. It even managed to evoke feelings of panic that I have felt late at night driving on a narrow countryside road.
Once the film had finished, to an audience applause, the director and two of the main actors came up to the front of the screening for a relaxed Q&A discussion. The most fascinating reveal was that most of the film was done without a proper script which meant the lead actors did not know what was to happen to their characters. Most of the film was shot with each actor given direction yet the acting was ad libbed. Amazing really when you consider the quality of the acting and how well the film flowed, yet it does explain how the acting managed to capture the realism. A brave move by the director but it paid off handsomely.
Having said that, despite all the great work on show here the end result does feel like something we have seen before. Probably not done as well as this but the film is let down by feelings of familiarity. You will probably leave theatres wanting more from In Fear, but that should not deter people who want to see a directional master class as In Fear is an exceptional experience in fear.