Director: Jeremy Lovering
Writer: Jeremy Lovering
Stars: Iain De Caestecker, Alice Englert, Allen Leech
It’s one of the oldest ideas for a horror film there is: getting a couple of characters who have a less than perfect relationship, shutting them in a car in the middle of nowhere and then pitting them against a psychotic killer. Variations of it abound, from Road Games to The Hitcher, from Gone to Hitch Hike. Strangely enough, most of them turn out to be pretty good; the claustrophobic nature of the plots help, of course, but maybe there’s something about the momentum of driving that mirrors and emphasises the pacing and momentum of the stories.
In Fear is an Irish film from 2013 which follows this model perfectly. Tom (Iain De Caestecker) and Lucy (Alice Englert) are a young couple who have only been going out for a couple of weeks. On the way to a festival, Tom pulls a surprise by revealing that he’s booked them in for the night at an exclusive hotel he’s found on the internet. But when they try to drive there they get hopelessly lost, not at all helped by road signs that seem deliberately contradictory. Then spooky things begin to happen: clothes are stolen from their suitcases and thrown into the bushes; dead rabbits strung across the road. Then they come across a wounded man (Allen Leech) who claims that it’s some rowdies from the local pub who are behind it all, which fits in with Lucy’s suspicions that Tom did something to antagonise them when the stopped off to ask for directions.
A pure three hander, this utilises its modest budget extremely well by using just a limited set of locations (primarily the inside of a car) and a small cast, with just the three credited performers. Although not in the same class as The Hitcher (the original, not the remake) it holds up well against its peers, standing as another in the line of rather good rural Irish horror movies that seem to be coming out at the moment. Apparently the two main leads were kept completely in the dark about the direction the plot would take, which helps add to the growing sense of tension; but the best performance comes from Leech (a regular on Downton Abbey), who is excellent as the ambiguous hitch-hiker. In Fear doesn’t exactly break new ground, but it doesn’t break it very effectively.