Jeremy Lovering’s low budget horror In Fear is your best current alternative to those Oscar season flicks.
In Fear director Jeremy Lovering has been travelling around the world promoting his film; he has been to FrightFest, Sundance and finally, on the eve of his nationwide premiere, he came to the Ritzy in Brixton. This particular premiere was followed by an insightful Q&A by the director, quite different from others I had been to in the past.
In Fear’s ambition isn’t to make people think – Lovering wants people on a Friday night to choose his film over the blockbusters
With most directors that speak about their movies, they speak of themes they wish to explore (generally pretentious nonsense about the human condition, leftist ideals etc), heavy emphasis on being an “actor’s director” (which makes it seem like every director is really trying to cover up that they don’t give a shit about the very people who are bringing it to life), and the organic process of making the feature (unless it is in hindsight, in which case they’ll tell of all the nightmarish individuals that made it difficult and don’t have to worry about not getting any more work from them).
Lovering, however, has much more realistic expectations about his movie and, more importantly, a more positive attitude towards this entire process. He says his overall ambition wasn’t to make people think or to push cinematic boundaries – he knew In Fear wasn’t a piece of “art” – but wanted people on a Friday night to choose his film over the Hollywood blockbusters. That’s an honest, yet tall order and one, I’m sure, many aspiring filmmakers could identify with and appreciate.
In Fear marks Lovering’s feature length directorial debut. Unfortunately, it does show in much of the improvised dialogue and heavy reliance on clichéd phrases such as (a personal irritant of mine), “What the fuck is going on!?” But lurking amongst it all is a good director waiting to get out.
In Fear’s premise is incredibly simple – a young couple decide to stay at a hotel for one night prior to a music festival, but get lost in the labyrinthine Irish countryside trying to find the hotel, with danger lurking over them – which proves Lovering is willing to take a huge risk. If it’s too simple, then audiences can get bored if the characters aren’t engaging. But over-complicate matters and it exposes the film’s plot holes, ready for the internet community to bitch about.
In Fear lacks the jump-scares that most contemporary horror films rely on. It aims for atmosphere
It’s in this simplicity that we recognise In Fear’s strengths, which, in turn, makes it a fun little horror film. The audience I attended the screening with did jump at times, but then would openly laugh at the more ridiculous moments. It was clear that this was in part due to the film lacking an abundance of jump-scares most contemporary horror films rely on. It aimed for atmosphere (not as crushing as A Field in England) and succeeded; naturally, young people joked when they were feeling uncomfortable.
In Fear is a late night, independent, low budget horror movie alternative to the Oscar-baiting pictures that are currently swarming our cinemas. Think of Tze Chun’s Bryan Cranston-starring Cold Comes the Night, where it’s the simplicity and earnest nature of direction that reminds us of the love of dirty, grimy, fun cinema without a need for self-awareness.
All images: StudioCanal