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.
Tom (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.
The audio is better than the audio with a single 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. Musical cues keep things eerie while the surrounds swallow you up with rain on the roof and branches scratching the sides of the car making it feel as if you’re sitting in the backseat. A blaring car horn still made me jump even while watching the film during the day and knowing it was coming. Dialogue is always clean and clear which could have killed the presentation considering how much dialogue there is. The only special feature included is the 12-minute “In Fear: Behind the Scenes” with the cast and crew — including Lovering, producers Nira Park and James Biddle, and stars De Caestecker and Englert — discussing the production and how Lovering never had a working script to keep the stars on their toes and their reactions genuine.
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.