Urbanites have plenty of reasons to fear country folk, at least in the movies. Getting away for the weekend so often turn into a showdown with masked murderers that heading out to the country seems like a game of Russian roulette.
In writer-director Jeremy Lovering's exceptional British thriller "In Fear," the needy, nebbish Tom (Iain De Caestecker) rolls the dice by booking a room at a remote hotel for himself and his maybe-kinda girlfriend, Lucy (Alice Englert), to celebrate their two-week anniversary. Hours later, they're no closer to their destination: They have been tricked into a giant maze that makes them easy prey.
Tom and Lucy drive for most of the movie, but Lovering keeps "In Fear" visually absorbing through unsettling close-ups and a well-paced series of scares. Night falls quickly, which means opacity and innuendo do most of the fright work. (Despite the film's R rating, there's very little blood.)
Though Lucy's character is basically the stock scared girl, Tom is an engaging mystery. His need to be the most logical guy in the room — or the more logical person in the car — and he flips from charmingly sardonic one moment to punch-worthy patronizing the next. When his true self emerges, the stakes rise to a game of masculine one-upmanship that he can't help playing, a character development that elevates this horror flick to a Greek tragedy.