REVIEW: Bring Out the Fear (2021)

dir. Richard Waters

Every now and then a horror film comes along which crawls firmly beneath your skin. And that is exactly what Richard Waters manages to achieve with Bring Out the Fear, turning the lost-in-the-woods film on its head. At the narrative core there is a wonderfully terrifying concept, as the central couple find the erupting conclusion of their relationship interrupted by the fact they are seemingly trapped in a never-ending expanse of forest, separate from time and space.

The film is, for the most part, a complete two-hander, and only works because of the strength of the performances. Ciara Bailey’s Rosie begins as a warm, affable presence, with much of the film’s early comedy coming from her. But as the horrors unfold Bailey delicately strips away what is appealing about her character and leaves behind a terrified figure, barely able to grasp onto her humanity. Meanwhile Tad Morai’s Dan is more dislikeable but still manages to eek out a remarkable amount of sympathy, even before proceedings take a supernatural turn. Together they are exceptional, with their prickly chemistry drawing us in, whilst Waters builds the mystery box that entraps them.

And this is very much the director’s film (he also writes and edits), marking Waters as a terrific genre talent. Rowan Moore’s cinematography is also exceptional, warping and shifting the wood around Rosie and Dan, making it almost eternal, whilst Steve Nolan’s score brings the chills.

There are times where Bring Out the Fear feels a tad stretched and the folklore at its core remains mostly obtuse. But the tension that simmers away at its heart keeps the audience intrigued, baffled and – ultimately – terrified, making this a walk in the woods certainly worth taking.

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Russell Bailey

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