A movie comes to you with lots of buzz surrounding it, you are forced to watch it. It’s a natural curiosity that draws you in. In a lot of instances, that buzz is credible. A movie is hot because frankly, it’s fuckin’ hot! Then there’s the deep, dark disappointment. The one that you watch and just don’t understand the hype or worse yet, you just don’t give a shit about it. That’s where we find ourselves with Jeremy Lovering’s In Fear.
Newly minted couple Tom & Lucy (played by Iain De Caestecker & Alice Englert) are driving to a music festival, their 2 week old relationship full of hope. While en route, the young couple get lost somewhere in the Irish Countryside. The further they wander into this maze, the worse the the trap ensnares them. To deepen the torment, there’s some person/being that exposes their fears and exploits them. Tom & Lucy slip further into their own madness which drives a wedge between them. There’s no clear sign as to what is real and what isn’t.
Okay, so here’s where I’m at with this movie: When all is said and done, I just found this movie uninteresting. It’s shot well, the performances are fine, the setting is pretty…all the technical pieces line up. The story, however, is one that seems like it’s building to something that it never reaches. The moments that should be scary, are not. And when it ends, the explosive vibe it’s trying to achieve falls flat. By all accounts, this should have worked! On paper, it seems to be a great idea. So, where does it all go wrong? That part, I’m still trying to figure out.
In Fear seems to be suffering from some sort of identity crisis. It’s very easy to call something a horror movie based on its ability to make you scream. I’m not going to try and define horror, either. That’s senseless. But having said that, the elements that are meant to be horrific in this movie are very low impact. The struggle between Tom & Lucy and their tormentor plays out in a very bland manner. It’s all very average. I’d consider this more of a drama with some thrille-type elements peppered in. Perhaps it’s intentional that some of these moments are understated. If that’s the case, then that theory is lost on me. I don’t get the mumblecore/mumblegore concept. In fact, I hate the idea of lending credibility to such a dumb phrase. Movies like Martha Marcy May Marlene, A Horrible Way To Die, Jack & Diane, and even to a lesser extent YellowBrickRoad earned the horror moniker for completely unknown reasons (in my opinion). The release of these films unfortunately took away from truly original work like Kill List at the time of their release. At any rate, In Fear has (whether it’s meant to or not) a lot of those elements embedded within. It’s not a hipstery movie persay, but it’s just so goddamn underwhelming. Horror doesn’t have to be a gorefest 24/7, but it has to give you something worth being afraid of. And by the criteria alone, In Fear does not do what it sets out to do. It’s a technically proficient movie with a boring script. Skilled actors can only do so much. At the end of the day, you need a script that grabs you by the throat and demands you pay attention. Unfortunately, In Fear fails to do that.
*In Fear will be available on Blu-Ray/DVD March 11.*