Directed by Jeremy Lovering, In Fear revolves around two almost-strangers, Tom (Iain De Caestecker) and Lucy (Alice Englert) who met at a bar and hit it off. A couple of weeks later, Tom invites Lucy to come with him to a music festival with some of his friends. On their way there, he told her that he took the liberty of booking them a hotel for the night, deep in the Cornwall countryside. So they set off into the night to get to the hotel, but things start to go horribly wrong.
In Fear appears to have a pretty standard horror set up at first look, and then a deeper look reveals that this assumption is completely right. Originality is not In Fear‘s strong area. The story is so basic it might as well have been a student film, but with horror, especially with dark, claustrophobic horror like this, less is often more. The film has a great atmosphere, and does a great job in pulling you into the horrifying situation these people eventually get into. There are, of course, some moments of horror film stupidity that make you scream in frustration, often along the lines of “stay in the car”.
The acting is all around good, which isn’t hard when you’ve only got three cast members total. Having a limited cast adds to the primal fear of the unknown that the film uses, and the direction is very good at using shadows and close ups to limit what we can see and make us empathize with the characters, although that doesn’t always work. Tom and Lucy are probably the biggest problem with the movie, not as actors, but as characters. They’re very sketchy and don’t get much development, and the film tries to focus more on throwing things at you rather than making you feel for these people, which dampens the effect somewhat. They’re not badly written in any way, but they could have been better, and combined with the very short running time of 85 minutes there really much room for growth, which is a shame.
Ultimately, In Fear must be judged on one thing: is it scary? And yes, it is, provided you can look past the basic nature of the plot and characters and just enjoy the atmosphere and tension, two things that it does do very well. However, if you demand a bit more from your horror films, then you’ll likely be disappointed.