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In Fear (2013)
Anchor Bay Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 3/11/2014
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 3/12/2014
I think that we all have odd, somewhat vague memories from childhood and one of my concerns a fear which would arise while riding in the car. Children today are often engrossed in some sort of electronic device while in a vehicle, but when I was little, I had to settle for looking out of the window. Now, I don't remember having any specific control issues, but if we were in an area which I didn't recognize, I would become convinced that we were lost. I'm not sure why I didn't trust my parents to get us home, but I can remember being very scared by this. Maybe that's why the very low-key British film In Fear had somewhat of an effect on me.
Tom (Iain De Caestecker) and Lucy (Alice Englert) are new acquaintances who are in a budding relationship. They have decided to travel to a music festival together, which is being held in the countryside. After stopping at a pub, Tom reveals that instead of driving all night, he has made arrangements for the two to stay in a nearby hotel and that a guide will be arriving to meet them. Sure enough, a truck bearing the logo of the hotel appears and Tom follows it to a gated road. Tom enters the road and follows the signs to the facility. Except they never seem to get anywhere. The signs are abundant, but they only lead in circles. Lucy suggests that they simply lead, but they now can't find their way back to the main road. As the sun sets, traversing the narrow, one-lane road becomes more treacherous. Out of cell-phone and GPS range, the situation becomes very desperate, especially when Lucy begins to suspect that they aren't alone.
At first glance, the premise of In Fear may seem a little flimsy and the synopsis implies that the whole movie is simply two people in a car driving around in circles. And...it sort of is. But, there's a lot more going on as well. An easy way to describe the movie is that it's like The Blair Witch Project...but in a car and not a found-footage film. (If you're like me and hated The Blair Witch Project that may sound questionable, but hang in there.) That is no way meant to imply that In Fear is a rip-off of Blair Witch, but comparing the similarities will help to better illustrate the film. Tom and Lucy realize that they are hopelessly lost and that it's getting dark. As if that isn't bad enough, they begin to suspect that someone is stalking them. Unlike Blair Witch though, something actually happens in In Fear.
Despite the fact that the movie does make something of its thin story, Director Jeremy Lovering is not able to make the film a complete success. Even with its spare 85-minute running time, the movie often feels like shot-after-shot of the car driving down yet another dark, narrow road. At one point, my wife said, "If something doesn't happen soon, I'm going to bed." Things do eventually happen, but they are often too far apart. The movie wants to build tension, and at first, it does. But, things begin to deflate when the audience thinks things like, "Why don't they just park and wait for dawn?" The third act reveals some of what is going on, and there is some action, but we never truly learn the motivation behind the incidents. (And don't think to hard about the website that Tom found or your head will begin to hurt.) There is a fairly shocking twist at the end, but the ending certainly isn't satisfying.
In the end, In Fear is a somewhat interesting experiment. The notion that a movie which consists mostly of shots from the interior of a car or of the exterior of said car being even mildly entertaining seem far-fetched. But, Lovering is able to squeeze out some tension, originating mostly from the awkward relationship between Tom and Lucy. There some nice jump scares and some "what did I just see?" shots, but the movie is never truly scary or unnerving. Still, if you're like me and the thought of a road which is too narrow to allow one to turn around is frightening, then In Fear may hold something for you.
In Fear was no doubt overseen by the "Backseat Cameraman's Union" on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 28 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing a slight amount of grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look fine, as the film has a very natural look. The bulk of the movie takes at night, but the image is never overly dark. The image does got a bit soft at times, which impacts the detail, but the depth is good. The Disc carries a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 1.8 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. We get numerous stereo effects, as the car drives by, and these effects show good separation. The surround sound effects are nicely done as well, most notably those which illustrate sounds coming from outside the car. The car and some "shock" sound effects provide some good bass effects.
The In Fear Blu-ray Disc contains only one extra feature, which is "In Fear: Behind the Scenes". This 13-minute featurette, which opens with the last shot of the film (good job), takes us on-set to see the film in-production. We also get comments from the cast, Lovering, and Producer Nira Park. The piece gives us a sense of how the project came together and it focuses on the unique manner in which the story was shot and how the actors were kept in the dark about the plot.
Review Copyright 2014 by Mike Long