At the Irish Film Institute in Temple Bar, Dublin, Yesterday night, I saw the premiere of a little film called In Fear, without knowing much about it. There's three actors (Australian teen actress Alice Englert, recently of the flop stillborn franchise Twilight-beater Beautiful Creatures (2013), Scottish actor Iain De Caestecker, seen as a Minipops Christopher Timothy in the recent BBC miniseries Young James Heriot, and Irish actor Allen Leech, best known as Bray-born chauffeur Tom Branson in ITV's period bore-a-thon Downton Abbey), and it is the debut film of British TV director Jeremy Lovering, who attended the Irish premiere, the only person involved with the film there, doing an audience Q and A which I participated in, and has worked on various TV shows such as Sherlock, Spooks and done second unit for Hot Fuzz (2007). This film is shamelessly derivative. Elements of the Hitcher (1986), Race with The Devil (coincidentially (according to Lovering, as I asked him myself) being shown next week on Film4, In Fear's co-producers), Roadgames (1981) and Duel (1971) crop up. At first, it seems to be entering the territory of Christopher Smith's Triangle (2009), involving travellers trapped in what appears to be a time loop, but it becomes something else.
Tom (De Caestecker) and Lucy (Englert) are two young lovers who have only been together for 2 weeks. Tom buys tickets for a rock festival in Ireland. It is actually filmed in Bodmin Moor, Cornwall, the director told me that this was due to unavailable Irish tax breaks, but it works, and gives it an unearthly, ambiguous feeling, especially as the surroundings are almost identical to the Irish countryside, in that it had many of the Irish audience fooled. Tom, being a bit unaccustomed to camping in the country, and also a romantic, books a hotel room in the seemingly idyllic Kilairney House Hotel, but on their way to the hotel, they get lost and are chased by seemingly several white-masked killers. Eventually, they find a victim, Max (Leech), who is at the same time predictable yet unpredictable.
The twists keep coming. What seems supernatural is actually the work of local pranksters. A mysterious noodle incident (what happened at the pub?) serves as the trigger for the events, or does it? What seems to be the work of several men is actually one man. It briefly becomes an Irishman setting up a more personalised, mobile version of Straw Dogs, simply because he's in a remote village, and it's either this or the pub, then the tables are turned, then it becomes something like Wolf Creek (2005), then something else. The ending ends on a freeze-frame, but there is much to enjoy. SPOILERS.
Leech's psycho role is brilliant. Clearly doing it for the 'craic', he seems normal, then psychotic, then normal, then eventually the whole catalyst. The revelation of "Kilairney House Hotel - a Slice of Paradise" will be forever stuck in my head, not least for its resemblance to a friend's house (yes, even my friend has piles of derelict cars in front of his house, but then again, his dad is a props maker at Ardmore Studios and Kwesi used to drive around in a London taxi age 10, driving his godmother/my mum nuts).
There are problems. The briefly-seen Irish pub, "O'Connor's" looks a bit too green, both leads are likeable but the idea that even a romantic bloke would book a posh country house hotel to go to a festival needs some suspension of disbelief. However, the film works.
The festival was a great chance to meet other fans, including someone who I always admired, Erik Threlfall of the Hysteria-Continues podcast, one of the other few Irish horror-bloggers/podcaster web personalities. We chatted, he said he'd follow this blog, talked about the film. We both found it "alright". The IFI also served for only a fiver (horror fans only), the most scrumptious scampi and chips I have ever had, like a giant packet of Scampi Fries.