Tuesday, March 18, 2014

In Fear Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Jami Ferguson
Writer/Director Jeremy Lovering’s debut film In Fear was a hit at the Sundance Film Festival, earning several US Exclusive theatrical engagements just a few days before the Blu-ray release. In Fear is a tense psychological horror about a young couple's fight to make it through the night. Home invasion but in a car. In real-time. Tom (Iain De Caestecker) and Lucy (Alice Englert) are trapped in a maze of country roads with only their vehicle for protection, terrorized by an unseen tormentor hell-bent on exploiting their worst fears. Driving, lost and tormented in the night, primal fears of the dark and the unknown give way to fear that you have let the evil in, or that it is already there. 

Film (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Tom (Iain De Caestecker) and Lucy (Alice Englert) are a new couple celebrating their two week anniversary. While on the way to camp with friends, Tom surprises Lucy with a reservation at a local hotel. Outside a pub, they wait for someone from the hotel to guide them to their destination. After a long drive, the Jeep they have been following waives them forward and they soon come upon a sign pointing the way towards the hotel. They follow sign after sign and eventually end up back at the starting point.

The trip becomes long and tedious and the narrow country roads are hard to manage. Irritation turns to concern as the couple starts to realize they are in grave danger. The couple wonders if they have been intentionally misled into a maze. As day turns to night and the weather turns bad they begin to fear for their lives and wonder what they’ve done to deserve to be tormented.

In Fear is one of the rare thrillers done right. Although it’s been called a “horror sensation”, the classification of a horror film is misleading. This is a straight up thriller with little blood and no gore, as I expect when I hear the term horror. Whether their tormentor wants to tease the couple, teach them a lesson or actually harm them is a mystery throughout most of the film.

I confess the only reason I agreed to watch and review the film was that it stars Iain De Caestecker. Iain De Caestecker plays Fitz, half of the adorable brainy duo Fitz/Simmons on ABC’s "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." and I was pleasantly surprised to see him carry this thriller. De Castecker and Englert are believable as a couple appear genuinely terrified throughout their journey in the woods. Most of the film takes place inside of a vehicle and Writer/Director Jeremy Lovering does an amazing job of bringing across the tension and helplessness the couple feels. As a viewer it’s easy to imagine yourself in exactly the same situation.
Video (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Anchor Bay Film’s In Fear Blu- ray is presented in a wide-screen 2.35:1 ratio. While the green countryside is lush most of the film takes place in a vehicle in the dark or failing light. The action is always visible and the detail is solid. The small amounts of blood are very realistic in color and texture and in the film’s most dramatic moments, muted colors come in to play. Fine object detail is adequate and minor shortcomings in definition do not detract heavily from the viewing experience.
Audio (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
In Fear’s Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio equals the video presentation. The most notable aspect is the rain drops that fall often and at varying speeds. The listener is immersed by the elements and the soundtrack at many times throughout the film. A car horn in the film was so lifelike I wondered if my own alarm was blaring in my driveway. Most importantly, dialogue when screaming or in whispers is intelligible at all times. Considering the foreign (to my American ears) accents, it could have been very difficult to make out the dialogue if the levels were off. Again, this was not a spectacular presentation, but it was certainly average and adequate for this type of film.
Extras (1 1/2 out of 5 stars)
In Fear Behind the Scenes – This featurette lasting almost 13 minutes looks at location, casting, story and the unique aspects of working without a final script and lack of knowledge about the ending.
Summary (3 out of 5 stars)
In Fear is an independent, presumably low budget film, done right. Writer/Director Jeremy Lovering shows how a single location and two solid actors can generate tension that many blockbuster thrillers fail to muster. It’s a shame that you can only see a film like this for the first time once. Not knowing who is after the young couple plays a large role in the film’s intensity but I expect that this will hold to up to repeat, although probably infrequent viewings. It’s not terribly original and it is simplistic but it worked for me and I recommend giving the Blu-ray a chance.

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