DIRECTOR Jeremy Lovering WRITER Jeremy Lovering STARS Iain De Caestecker; Alice Englert; Allen Leech SCREENING Today at 13.00
On paper, the low-budget In Fear does not particularly appeal: a young couple find themselves lost in the countryside, driving in circles through the night, as they come to realise that they are not alone. Yet, this is a strong feature debut from Jeremy Lovering, the result an effective psychological thriller that wastes no time in initiating a tension that remains taut throughout.
Red herrings abound as a smart screenplay keeps us guessing as to who or what the threat is, but this is a film that is also about style, meted out with careful direction. Classic close-ups create the impression that Tom, the male half of the couple, means harm for Lucy, while the abrupt change from static camera to hand-held for a beating after the eventual arrival of the antagonist again raises that question, the two men involved indistinguishable. The cinematography is also very good; for instance, as our couple grow more panicked, even the grass is made to look menacing, the light glistening to make the blades appear like needles. Thoughtful sound design complements the growing pressure on the couple, the sound of rain on the windscreen emphasising that they are at the mercy of their surrounds, trapped in the confines of a car that is increasingly claustrophobic.
This multi-faceted approach to what is a low-concept story is what truly elevates In Fear, however the performances must also be praised; working without a script, Alice Englert and Iain De Caestecker turn in a believable trepidation, while Allen Leech as Max, their tormentor, is unsettling. Certainly there are flaws, and the climax does approach well-worn, cliched territory, but the quibbles to be had are but minor. Promising stuff from Lovering.