Sunday, March 9, 2014

Anchor Bay's IN FEAR (2013) Blu-ray: One More Reason To Rethink That Festival Road-Trip

In Fear (2013)

Buy the Blu-ray or DVD

The Movie

Being lost sucks. Being lost in the middle of nowhere, in the dark, while strange shit happen sucks even more. In a nutshell, that's the premise of Jeremy Lovering's IN FEAR, and for the most part, it works pretty damn effectively.

The official synopsis goes something like this:
Young couple Tom (Iain De Caestecker of “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”) and Lucy (Alice Englert of BEAUTIFUL CREATURES) are driving to a festival in the remote Irish countryside. When they leave the main highway to look for their hotel, they quickly lose their way along the back-roads. Lost and tormented as night falls, Tom and Lucy’s primal anxieties of the dark and the unknown start to take hold. When the couple discovers they are not alone, they realize that their worst fears lay in the road ahead.
The beauty of IN FEAR is that it plays off of our human instincts. Being somewhere strange, in the dark, is one of the most unsettling and disorienting scenarios that we can find ourselves in. It probably has something to do with our ancestry and not wanting to get eaten by large creatures with teeth that are much sharper than our own. IN FEAR takes that primal feeling and runs with it to great effect... For the first two-thirds, anyway.

Lovering knows how to use the film's backroads setting to its advantage, and he puts the audience square in middle of things while Tom and Lucy slowly lose their minds to fear. Darkness creeps in like an oppressive monster, and soon, even the slightest noises will have you looking over your shoulder and wondering if what you are seeing is real, or if the couple are just imagining it. 

However, the final act of the film stumbles a bit as it trades mystery and tension for a more conventional, and somewhat convoluted, finale. Sure, there are still things left to the imagination, and not everything is laid out in full for us, but I couldn't help but feel like I've seen other films tackle the same set-pieces to greater effect. Still, it wasn't enough to fully take me out of the story, and ultimately, it didn't ruin anything for me. But I can certainly see how it might for some viewers; especially given how good the first two acts are.

And that's really the takeaway here, as I think that IN FEAR is a good movie on the whole. Watching it late at night, by myself, I found myself engrossed in the scenario for the majority of the film. Hell, I even jumped at a few moments, which is something that I usually don't do. So, with that in mind, there is quite a bit about the movie that is worth your time.

Ultimately, the question of whether IN FEAR will work for you or not is going to depend on two things: A) Your opinion of the first two-thirds of the film, and B) Your ability to accept the direction that the film takes during its final act. For me, the movie is far from perfect, but I found enough to like in there that the missteps were entirely forgivable. It may not be something that I'll be rushing to revisit, but I enjoyed it regardless.

Movie Score


The Blu-ray

Anchor Bay continues their tradition of giving their new acquisitions a solid presentation on Blu-ray; even if they don't necessarily load the discs up with bonus content.

Video Quality (4/5)

Anchor Bay's transfer of IN FEAR is a 1080p AVC-encoded affair that averages around 27 Mbps and, quite frankly, looks pretty wonderful. The blacks are solid, and detail is fine throughout. This is a huge plus, considering that most of the film takes place in the dark, and the little bit of light we get relies on the use of shadows. Is this the best looking film of the year? No. However, it is a solid image that does justice to the movie, and it probably looks just as good on disc as it would have in the theater. No complaints here.

Audio Quality (4/5)

IN FEAR's Dolby TrueHD-encoded 5.1 audio track is equally as impressive as its video quality. Weighing in around a healthy 1.3 Mbps, the audio is well-balanced, atmospheric, and uses the low channel to great effect. The surrounds are active throughout, and they help add to the ethereal, surreal quality of the film. At the end of the day, IN FEAR relies heavily on its audio to help add tension to the scenario, and this track is effective at what it needs to do.

Extra Features (2/5)

There aren't a wealth of special features on the Blu-ray; only a single Behind-The-Scenes featurette.
  • IN FEAR - Behind The Scenes (13 min): A fairly short, but worthwhile look into the filming of the movie and the concept behind it. Well-made, but fairly conventional.

Final Thoughts

As a film, IN FEAR works well for the majority of its running time; delivering tension and an impending sense of dread. However, it's not perfect, and the last 20-30 minutes of the film are certainly less interesting than the first two-thirds of it. Still, if you can take the slow-burn, and aren't overly critical of the last act, then it's worth your time.

Anchor Bay's Blu-ray release of the film is good; though it contains almost no extras, so fans of the movie will likely find themselves wishing there was more to dig in to. That being said, the video and audio are very solid and they hold their own with some of the larger-budget releases.

If you are already a fan of IN FEAR, then picking up Anchor Bay's Blu-ray is a no-brainer. However, if you haven't seen the film and are unsure if it's for you, then I can certainly recommend renting this release, or even blind-buying it if the price-point is right.

Blu-ray Score


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