Monday, 10 March 2014

IN FEAR - Review By Greg Klymkiw - Anchor Bay Entertainment Canada releases Blu-Ray day-and-date with Raven Banner's Sinister Cinema unveils tense thriller from Ireland that'll have you on the edge of your seat.

Anchor Bay Entertainment Canada has released a first-rate Blu-Ray transfer of the Sundance Festival Midnight hit In Fear, a scary and exceptionally well-photographed thriller. Colour and clarity during daytime sequences is stunning, but it's the dusk, deep night and dawn footage of the tense shocker that really take, front seat (pun intended since a good 60% or so of the action takes place in a moving car after the sun goes down). The movie and fine transfer are the main thing here. The only extra is a brief 12 minute behind the scenes featurette which provides some extremely interesting background material about director Jeremy Lovering's unique approach in making the film, BUT DO NOT WATCH IT BEFORE YOU SEE THE MOVIE.

Alice Englert - Jane Campion's Daughter
In Fear (2013) ***
Dir. Jeremy Lovering
Starring: Alice Englert, Iain De Caestecker, Allen Leech

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Being trapped deep in the Irish countryside - well, nowhere, really - there's probably nothing more fill-a-load-in-your-drawers scary than being lost in a strange rural maze as the sun is going down and that maybe, just maybe, you've inspired the wrath of some half-ton-driving drunken louts encountered earlier at a pub.

The future of indie cinema is HORROR
Such is the dilemma facing Lucy (Alice Englert) and Tom (Iain De Caestecker) as they drive to a musical festival. They're not quite a couple yet, but there's definitely a spark between them - so much so that when Tom suggests they veer off the road to a quaint, old hideaway hotel he's found on the internet for a night of romance before continuing on - Lucy agrees. Though she's feeling like things are moving a trifle too fast, they clearly have a solid rapport. Little does she know, however, that they'll be needing to move a whole lot faster than a mere "trifle" and it's going to have nothing to do with romance.

It turns out the hotel is located on a huge tract of gated land and includes a fairly long drive into deep, ominous woods. Alack and alas, their cel phone and GPS coverage cuts out which is not going to bode well as they plunge into a strangely circuitous series of roads with confusing signs and worse, the overwhelming sense that someone or something is out there. Strange sightings occur - mostly of the red-herring variety, but the couple's fear still hits them in exponential zaps.

Gas is getting low and Lucy not only suspects it might be the inbred young lads they've had some sort of altercation with in the nearby pub prior to beginning their journey, but that Tom had some words with them privately which really pissed them off. When she demands he come clean, whatever romantic spark once existed, pretty much fizzles. As the sun goes down, fear and tension builds as they get more and more lost. There's still no sign of a hotel and no matter which way they go, they wind up at the same strange old shack with an ominous "get the fuck away from here" No Trespassing sign.

And then they see someone. This is no red-herring.

Narratively, neither our main characters, nor we, the viewers, really know what's out there. Maybe it's the louts from the pub, but MAYBE it's something far more threatening. Maybe it's simply the fear of being caught in a maze of deep woods or maybe it's the fear turning to paranoia about the couple's respective motives and loyalties to and/or for each other.

Maybe, it's just the dark.

For the first half of the film, we're dazzled by Lovering's superb direction, the natural qualities of his actors and the highly skillful mise-en-scene which keeps a good deal of the action in the car. The film is also nimbly shot and cut and there are any number of moments that might require the audience's use of "Depends". The aforementioned unique approach to shooting the film contributes not only to the extreme levels of terror, but is also a testament to the brilliant performances of Englert (so wonderful in Ginger and Rosa) and De Caestecker. I will not spoil this for you. Try to avoid reading anything about the movie, OTHER than this piece before you see it. I've noticed far too many scribes belching out this info. And I reiterate - don't watch the Behind the Scenes extra until AFTER you see the movie.

For a good chunk of In Fear's running time, the antagonist is fear itself. This works beautifully and points to something that has all the makings of a minor genre classic. Though the narrative takes a clumsy turn in the last half, it doesn't completely detract from the movie's wham-bam qualities. In fact, some of it works quite well within the tropes of the genre. There are a few visceral scares, a good amount of jolting violence and one brilliantly, terrifyingly rendered set-piece involving a knife placed to the back of one of the heads of our protagonists as the vehicle careens wildly through the pitch black night on the mud roads during a torrential rain. (There's also a great performance from Allen Leech, whose high-pitched laughs rival those of the tricycle-riding lout in Sam Peckinpah's Straw Dogs.)

In Fear delightfully force-feeds us several table-spoon-sized dollops of scares, but it doesn't change the fact that the movie does slightly cheat us out of a direction that might have truly satisfied. The final third of the picture feels vaguely for nought. The literal evil, it turns out, seems quite banal and a real letdown. The big surprise reveal is not all that surprising and most egregiously, the film peters out into some kind of existential nonsense that makes little in the way of story comprehension and is certainly a head-scratcher in terms of the film's thematic elements.

In spite of this disappointment, the movie does bode well for future output from its clearly talented director and most importantly, it will still bristle the scare-nerves in thine sphincter.

Given that it's a thriller, one cannot argue with that.

In Fear is an Anchor Bay Entertainment Canada release. You can buy it (and other great Anchor Bay titles) here by clicking directly on the links below, and in so doing, contribute to the ongoing maintenance of The Film Corner.

In Fear is presented for one special night only as part of Raven Banner's superb cross-Canada monthly Sinister Cinema series of macabre offerings from all over the world.

In Fear takes place Thursday, March 13 at 7:30pm in 28 theatres.

The venues are as follows:

Scotiabank Theatre Chinook - Calgary, AB
Scotiabank Theatre Edmonton - Edmonton, AB
Cineplex Cinemas Saint John - Saint John, NB
Cineplex Cinemas Avalon Mall - St. John's, NL
Cineplex Odeon Victoria Cinemas - Victoria, BC
SilverCity Riverport Cinemas - Richmond, BC
Galaxy Cinemas Nanaimo - Nanaimo, BC
Cineplex Odeon International Village Cinemas - Vancouver, BC
Colossus Langley Cinemas - Langley, BC
SilverCity Polo Park Cinemas- Winnipeg, MB
SilverCity Sudbury Cinemas- Sudbury, ON
Galaxy Cinemas Regina - Regina, SK
Galaxy Cinemas Saskatoon - Saskatoon, SK
SilverCity Fairview Mall Cinemas - Toronto, ON
Cineplex Odeon Winston Churchill Cinemas - Oakville, ON
Cineplex Cinemas Yonge -Dundas Cinemas - Toronto, ON
Cineplex Odeon Eglinton Town Centre Cinemas - Scarborough, ON
Cineplex Cinemas Queensway and VIP - Etobicoke, ON
Colossus Vaughan Cinemas - Woodbridge, ON
Cineplex Cinemas Mississauga - Mississauga, ON
Coliseum Ottawa Cinemas - Ottawa, ON
SilverCity Gloucester Cinemas - Ottawa, ON
Cineplex Cinemas Bayers Lake - Halifax, NS
Cineplex Odeon Forum Cinemas - Montreal, QC
Cineplex Odeon Devonshire Mall Cinemas - Windsor, ON
Galaxy Cinemas Waterloo - Waterloo, ON
SilverCity Hamilton Cinemas - Hamilton, ON
SilverCity London Cinemas - London, ON

Additional screenings for In Fear
have been added to Cineplex Cinemas Yonge-Dundas:
March 14, 15, 17, 18 and 19.

Check Toronto local listing for confirmed dates and times.