Article first published as Blu-ray Review: 'In Fear' (2013) on Blogcritics.
Sometimes it takes a while for films that play the Sundance Film
Festival to either show up in theaters, VOD, or go straight-to-video.
Those that are usually more worth the wait tend to be the horror
features. Poor Tucker & Dale vs. Evil took more than two
years before Magnolia Pictures finally released it on Blu-ray; something
typically akin to Bob and Harvey Weinstein. 2013’s festival offered up a
better slate of genre fare than usual, and one of the best was director
Jeremy Lovering’s experimental In Fear, featuring Alice Englert (Beautiful Creatures) and Iain De Caestecker (Agent Fitz on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), available on Blu-ray now from Starz/Anchor Bay.
(De Caestecker) and Lucy (Englert) have only been dating for two weeks
but decide to take off for the weekend to a music festival in Ireland.
Tom springs the news on Lucy that he has booked them a night’s stay at a
hotel to spend some alone time along the way. A truck meets them in
front of a pub to lead them to the hotel’s gate entrance leaving them on
their own to follow the signs through the countryside. After Tom and
Lucy figure out that they’re stuck in some kind of maze, they have to
fend for themselves as mysterious figures linger in the dark and their
gas tank starts to run low. Eventually, the circumstances come to light
as Tom and Lucy wind up in a fight for their lives.
In Fear makes a frightening debut on Blu-ray on a 25GB disc in
a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The transfer shines better in the opening parts
of the film that take place in daylight. Featuring optimum clarity, it’s
almost as if you could reach into your screen and feel Tom’s sweater,
or run your fingers through Lucy’s hair. Once night takes over however,
clarity is less distinct as Tom’s stubble gets smeary, but crush never
swallows up the image. Great news considering two-thirds of the runtime
is at night. Only one instance of aliasing is easily spotted on a bridge
at the beginning, another of shimmer in some foliage, but banding is
non-existent which could have run rampant toward the end.
In Fear isn’t out to reinvent the genre but Lovering knows how
to build suspense as things continue to go from bad to worse for Tom
and Lucy. At first you may suspect an air of the supernatural but it
never gets to that point keeping the threat far more realistic. As much
as I already hate the woods, this film is just another nail in the
coffin to keep me out of them. Considering how shoddy the GPS already is
on my phone, In Fear is a simple reminder that sometimes it’s
best to not head down the road less traveled. Lovering’s experiment pays
off for the most part with plenty of scares and a creepy, voyeuristic
approach keeping the lurking danger from becoming prescient. A definite
recommend for those who like their horror more psychological than
throwing buckets of gore at the audience.