In FearThursday 14 Nov 2013
Director: Jeremy Lovering
Starring: Iain De Caestecker, Alice Englert, Allen Leech
Duration: 85 minutes
A TV veteran whose credits include Spooks, Teachers and Money (he has a Sherlock coming up), Jeremy Lovering makes his feature directing debut with this self-penned, Ireland-set psychological chiller which plays on two of life's great terrors: becoming lost and a man having to ask for help with directions.
Two weeks on from their first date, Lucy (Englert) and Tom (De Caestecker) arrive in Ireland for a music festival (Cornwall actually doubling for 'down the country'). The plan was to go straight to the campsite to meet Lucy's friends, but Tom has a surprise: he's booked them in for the night at this gorgeous little place that he found on the internet.
Loved up and laughing, they reach the area and follow the signs but no matter which way they go they keep ending up back where they started - the middle of nowhere. Night is falling, the Sat Nav's had enough, the 'perfect people' facade of new romance is starting to crumble and ego and edginess are becoming part of every terse exchange. There's a lot worse to come.
While the set-up is as familiar as your own way home and the terror tropes are well signposted, Lovering deserves credit for making a movie that is still genuinely unnerving and which uses genre conventions to explore male insecurity, trust issues and our propensity for violence. It's well-cast and deftly shot and soundtracked, with Lovering's decision not to give his stars the full script and story adding much to their performances in terms of claustrophobia and suspense. You'll feel like you're in the car too.
For all those right turns, you may think there are issues here with an ending that seems too big and abrupt for what has preceded it and which feels like it belongs in something schlockier. That said, for a first-timer Lovering still does more than enough to be asked back to cinemas again - the moneybags in the US could add plenty to the studio coffers by giving him a shot at a bigger gig.
When someone goes out of their way to make a car alarm sound like the music from Psycho, you know you're in good company.