Thursday, April 3, 2014

Blu-ray Review: IN FEAR (2013)

IN FEAR (2013) 
Label: Anchor Bay Entertainment
Region Code: A
Duration: 85 Minutes 
Audio: Dolby TrueHD  5.1with Optional Enflisg Subtitles 
Video: 1080p Widescreen (2.35:1) 
Cast: Iain De Caestecker, Alice Englert, Allen Leech 
Director: Jeremy Lovering

Tom (Iain De Caestecker) and Lucy (Alice Englert) are a young couple en route to a music festival via the back roads of the Irish countryside. They're a sweet young couple, they've not been together very long and are just starting to feel out the relationship and each other. On their way they briefly stop off at a pub for a pint and are each involved in a slight altercations with the locals but soon enough back on the road. 

They do encounter one small problem - they're become hopelessly lost in a labyrinthine maze of back roads deep in an overgrown forest. Following the road signs they seem to be going in circles. Frustrations start to manifest as they continually arrive back at the same fork in the road. What at first seemed like just poor navigation starts to seems as though someone is playing cat and mouse with them, toying with them. The who and why are a mystery, they speculate the encounter at the pub with the locals may have something to do with it but they're grasping at straws to make sense of the nightmarish scenario. As darkness descends the wooded roads turn black and the tension between the lovers builds as they become more emotional and paranoid as the gas gauge plunges towards empty. . 

Along the way they meet an injured stranger named Max with a nasty gash on his face, apparently a victim of the same person or group that are toying with Tom and Lucy. He's a local with a familiarity with the roads and together they attempt to navigate their way out of the maze. Max as played by Allen Leach is suspect from the get-go, a dark stranger with unclear motives but dripping with menace and a penchant for playing psychological games with the young lovers, I certainly detected a flavor The Hitcher (1986) once he was introduced. 

The film is shot mostly in and around the couple's car and you do feel the budgetary limitations from time to time but this is a very nicely executed thriller. The young cast is superb, you like this couple and when they argue it feels genuine. The slate-grey backdrop of a rainy weather and dark wooded area are a perfect setting. In Fear is an exercise is tension helped in no small part by an unnerving score and some excellent sound design - there's a lot of  creepy subtle stuff happening in the first half. The final act let me down just a tiny bit as it goes for more of a typical amped-up thriller and loses much of the suspense in addition to a sot quite satisfying conclusion. A few small issues aside first-time director Jeremy Lovering has crafted a gripping indie thriller that does quite a bit with a tiny budget and very familiar material. 2.5 Outta 5