March 13, 2014

Blu-ray Review: In Fear (2014)
There's no writing credit for this movie on IMDB, and for good reason: this film esentially has no script. The movie was shot chronologically, and the actors were given bits of the plot as they went along, with everything else left for them to improv.

Had we known that before we saw In Fear, we may have ended up liking it a bit more than we did.

The actors pulled off the whole Improv thing really, really well, but at the same time, that very same improv aspect made the film come off as directionless, and it made us feel as if we were watching a story that was spinning its narrative wheels for 90 minutes in a futile effort to go somewhere, which it never really did.

Instead of being terrifying, as the title suggests, In Fear is more an exercise in tedious, repetitive frustration.

Tom and Lucy are a new couple who are on their way to a musical festival in rural Ireland. As a surprise, Tom has booked them a room at the secluded Kilairney House Hotel, so that they can do new couple stuff together (wink, wink), and maybe order room service after. Sounds like a nice little trip, eh?

After stopping off at a pub (where Lucy is spied on in the bathroom, and Tom spills someone's drink), a guy in a jeep shows up and leads Tom and Lucy into the country, to show them where this "secluded" Hotel is. When they arrive at a crossroads, the guy in the jeep ushers them to go forward, and he turns and drives off another way at a high rate of speed. Odd, but alright, maybe that's how they are in rural Ireland.

She knows what he's up to with his little "Lovely Hotel" stunt!
They head in the direction in which they've been ushered, and encounter a fence blocking their way, which is also locked with a heavy chain. Now, I'm not sure what kind of legit Hotel blocks off the roads that will allow you to actually arrive there, but again, maybe that's a normal thing in Ireland? So Tom breaks through the barrier, and he and Lucy head down the dirt road, ready to spend a night at the lovely Kilairney House Hotel...

...and instead spend the rest of the movie driving around, trying to find it.

No, that sign is incorrect.
There's more to the plot (which we won't touch on here, so as not to spoil things), but it's basically Tom and Lucy driving around in circles in a creepy backroad maze, following a bunch of signs which point the way to the Hotel, but serve only to lead them astray.

Does the Kilairney House Hotel even exist? Is there some sick, twisted game afoot on these deserted backroads? Will Tom and Lucy ever make it to their music festival?  Far be it from us to spoil things here, but suffice it to say that the only place that any of the characters end up making it is into the grips of fear and madness! Or something.

There will be no happy ending here.
The problem with In Fear, at least for us, is that nothing about the movie rang true. The characters made nothing but stupid decisions, and they showed such an utter lack of common sense, that we were just about completely taken out of the movie by their actions.

Why would they not just say "This all seems really creepy and odd, let's get the hell out of here?" I mean, there's not one thing about this whole "Hotel" idea that seems normal or on the level, from the mysterious guy who tells Tom "I'll come and show you where it is," to the locked gate, to the fact that it's so isolated and they can't find it with any sort of ease.

Seriously, just drive home!
As odd and as creepy as things get, it really perplexed us as to why neither of them said "Screw this, let's turn around." As a guy who has just started seeing a girl who seems to be all kinds of sweet and cool, I'd go out of my way to remove her from any sort of situation that seemed wrong, odd, or potentially unsafe. Obviously then, the movie doesn't exist if I'm driving the car, but all of that is just to say that as a movie, they way that the plot unfolds just felt wrong to us.

Why would they continue to drive around aimlessly, following signs which are obviously not getting them anywhere but lost? Why are they stopping to help a stranger in the night, only minutes after a masked stranger tried to drag Lucy into the forest? And how is it that for the entire movie, Tom and Lucy are lost and unable to find a way out of the maze they are in, yet at the end of the film, the road that leads out is suddenly accessed with seemingly no effort at all?

As lovely as good improv is to watch, reasons like this are exactly why having a solid script in place is a very important thing for a film. Had there been a script in place here, we think that In Fear would have worked much better. Then again, maybe it wouldn't have.

"This Hotel doesn't even exist, does it?"
I'll give the film this: as a piece of improv work, it's pretty remarkable. I may have thought that the story was weak, and that it's characters were annoying, but I had no clue that this movie was being improvised by its cast. That's a seriously impressive feat.

It's also a pretty film to look at. It's not only competently shot, but its Irish Countryside backdrop is a gorgeous thing to behold, even though we get to see it mostly at night.

High concept art and experimental filmmaking are great, but not at the expense of believability. In Fear should have had us on the edge of our seat, gripped by the same fear that the characters were experiencing. We should have been tense with panic, gripped with fear, and anxious for our protagonists to escape their situation with their lives, but it never really hit us that way. Instead, we spent the entire film questioning everything that the characters were doing, and shaking our heads while they were doing it, instead of being sucked into their story.

In the end, In Fear inspires far more frustration than it does any sort of titular fear. 

We do get some beautiful locations though.
As an exercise in how to do Improv the right way, In Fear is all aces. For the actors of this film to essentially improvise everything that they said and did, and make it seem as if they were following a script, was no mean feat. As a Horror movie though, In Fear is mediocre at best, suffering from its directionless improvisation, and giving us a repetitive experience that felt as if it never really went anywhere.

We're sure that lots of people will dig this movie -it's got itself a solid 87% fresh over on Rotten Tomatoes- but for us, it just didn't work.

In Fear is available on Blu-ray/DVD and on VOD now.


Alice Englert did herself proud with her work in In Fear, and we salute her.

1 comment :

  1. For me, it didn't work either. So tiresomely repetitive!