The idea of getting lost in an unknown place is absolutely horrifying. This theme has been explored in numerous horror films over the years, and the fear is still all too real. Anything could happen in unfamiliar territory. However, when it comes to road trip films, they are generally dramedies that try to capture on some type of adventure and self-discovery. Director Jeremy Lovering's motion picture takes a completely different look at the road trip film and wants you to fear something that people around the world have enjoyed for years. Jaws made us afraid to go in the ocean, A Nightmare on Elm Street made us afraid to go to sleep, and so on. Will In Fear make it too scary to head out on a road trip? Well, this isn't your typical modern motion picture. Rather, this is a horror thriller that hopes to wear you down and strike when you least suspect it. The question is, does it succeed?
After only meeting a couple weeks ago, Lucy (Alice Englert) and Tom (Iain De Caestecker) have decided to take a road trip to a festival that they have been excited to attend. Before heading to the hotel where they will rest for the night, they decide to stop in a pub for a drink. They are guided to the area where signs will direct them to the hotel, although they ultimately find themselves in a seemingly unending maze. Lost and tormented in the night, the dark begins to play tricks on them. They don't have an unlimited source of gas and Lucy becomes convinced that they're being followed by something malevolent that lurks among the shadows.
From the moment the film starts, it tries to give us a look into each of their personalties. Lucy is a quiet, but sweet girl who is looking forward to spending more time with Tom, while he's stubborn and has an attitude that can flip relatively easily. Before we even get the chance to know them much more than that, they're thrown into this maze of fear. The later it becomes in the day, the more eerie it becomes. They drive endlessly, trying to find their way back to the main road. However, the signs seem to be taking them nowhere and the map is of no use. As expected of many horror films, Lucy is convinced that she caught a glimpse of somebody a few times, but Tom continues to think that she didn't actually see anything. There are only so many horror features that I can see with this cliché before it starts to seriously get on my nerves. It doesn't take very long to instantly start disliking Tom. He makes some of the most unrealistic decisions one could expect him to make, while we don't feel either way about Lucy. Regardless of the situation that they're in, it's difficult to feel anything for roles that audiences aren't able to relate to.
In Fear improves quite a bit when the darkness completely overtakes the roads. There are quite a few creepy and mysterious scenes, but almost all of them are in the trailer. Of course, they work better in the context of the feature, but if you've watched anything on this film, then you know pretty much every worthwhile scare in the running time. However, director Jeremy Lovering is successful in creating tension when the couple are driving down the dark dirt roads, and we see nothing but what the headlights illuminate. These scenes had me sitting at the edge of my seat, wondering what the lights would strike. However, the film misleads its audience into thinking that this will be a "jump scare"-palooza, but fortunately, it prefers to scare with the subtleties. It leaves you guessing as to what's going on a few times towards the beginning, but it shouldn't take very long for you to guess what's happening. I was hoping that In Fear would send us down a few other roads in order to keep the suspense and mystery high, but once this section of the motion picture comes to an end, as does a lot of our interest.
I was quite disappointed by the fact that a lot of the scares were used in the trailer, but nothing prepared me for the disappointment found in the final act. While the first two acts could have led to an incredibly creepy conclusion, it falls into a terribly predictable hole that it simply isn't able to climb itself out of. Instead, it continues to dig itself deeper and deeper into this hole. In the third act, it completely abandons its subtleties for more bold scenes that you've seen in plenty of horror flicks before. Unfortunately, it goes down a steep decline from there. Perhaps if it continued to act on its subtle approach of scaring, and had more of it, then this would be a much more successful horror thriller. Once the credits began to roll, I only felt one thing, and that was disappointment. I really wanted to like this film, since it's been a while since I've seen a creepy horror flick. Unfortunately, it failed to leave any lasting impression of fear.
Even though I didn't agree with where director Jeremy Lovering took this, I appreciated the fact that the film held its focus on the two main characters. As previously mentioned, there isn't much character disposition, but by keeping them front and center, it allows the scope to be held much tighter. Alice Englert is pretty good in the role of Lucy. Her increasing sense of fear is quite convincing throughout the running time. Iain De Caestecker is convincing enough as Tom, but the connection between the leads is where the acting lacks. They're both good individually, but their performances don't mesh very well. I understand that they were meant to have only known each other for a couple weeks, but their interactions feel far too forced. Regardless, these performances are still better than those seen in the majority of modern horror flicks.
Director Jeremy Lovering's In Fear might not entirely work on the basis of how the plot is carried out, but his visuals work in the context of the feature. The camera is often fixed in the back seat as Lucy and Tom drive down the dirt roads, giving us the feeling that we're sitting in the car with the characters. This aids in delivering tension as the vehicle continues to drive from one dirt path to another. The audio track also works with its subtle execution. Since this film doesn't capitalize on "jump scares," the softer track is quite appealing and fitting. Lovering has successfully created an incredibly creepy environment with the forests and dirt roads.
It's truly difficult to talk about In Fear without completely spoiling its "twist." Once you start watching it, the outcome should be fairly predictable. It's a such a shame, since I truly wanted to like this horror film. Director Jeremy Lovering's motion picture had the potential to be incredibly eerie and creepy, and while it has its moments that depict fear, all of them were spoiled in the trailer. The first two acts had the potential of leading somewhere powerful, but it ultimately falls flat. In Fear didn't leave any lasting impression, when it should have left me afraid to get in my car. Rent it.