Movie Review - In Fear
I would like to begin by reiterating my stance that as a reviewer I consider it my job to convey what works and doesn't work about a film, without revealing too much about the plot. And even when I do not like a film, I strive to make my reviews as constructive as possible, because everyone has their own taste and I don't feel the need to insult anyone else's opinion. I certainly don't think my opinions reflect that of the general population, but never was I made more aware of this than after reading the predominantly stellar reviews that Jeremy Lovering's 2014 film, In Fear, received on Rotten Tomatoes. Not to say it's terrible, but the film is being likened to the work of John Carpenter and I am left wondering if I watched a completely different movie than everyone else. Overall, I found this movie to be a run of the mill exercise in trying the viewers patience, with no real payoff in the end.
Let me start with the strength of the film. Writer / Director Jeremy Lovering is actually quite talented behind the camera. His beautifully framed shots are really the star of this film, claustrophobically closing in around us and enveloping the interior of the vehicle with a sense of dead. The dark, cold color palette of the film furthers the sense of isolation that the director has built which provides the perfect backdrop for the drama to unfold.
On top of that the performances of the two lead actors are strong, steady and completely believable. Alice Englert (Beautiful Creatures) and Iain De Caestecker (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D) do the best with what they're given despite the fact that they aren't really given much. And that is where the film fails. There isn't really much of a story at all. At least, not enough to carry ninety minutes.
Here's the story, a new couple on their way to a music festival, decides to stop at an out of the way hotel for one night together. But on the way the get lost in what seems to be a labyrinth of woods stretching in every direction. And after driving around in circles for hours, they become aware that someone outside is playing games with them. The problem is, that's it. A majority of the film is spent in the interior of the car, with the two lead characters reacting to some predictable scares, all the while confounding the viewer as to why they don't just go in a different direction. And in the end, when all is said and done, we're left none the wiser as to the motives behind the antagonist, or the fate of two of the characters. Which was not only disappointing, but lazy.
In truth, I would venture to guess that the reason there is no 'writer' credited on IMDB, is that no one actually wrote this film. The director had the seed of an idea, that could have been cultivated into something worthwhile, but instead of giving it time to develop they just started shooting based on a loose premise. As I said this is just me speculating. In truth I don't know what possessed them to stretch this idea into a ninety minute film, but I hope that in the future Lovering chooses more engaging stories to direct, because clearly the man has a talented eye that should be put to better use.
- Leo Francis