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  • Writer's pictureMartyn Wakefield


Dir. Steve Du Melo

Reviewer. Martyn Wakefield

A PRELUDE TO FEAR is the 2021 thriller that brings about true horror in a way like no other. There’s no need for a boogeyman as the events depicted in this movie are those centred around real life tragedies. As explained through the film’s epilogue, over 300,000 people go missing in the UK each year and many are never seen again. The details behind their abduction and subsequent lives after are never explained to those closest to them and furthermore, no peace nor rescue viable without breadcrumb clues.

When a young Celloist, Eve (Lara Lemon) goes missing on a visit to her new tutor, Mr Corcoran (Roger Wyatt). A last-minute call puts her boyfriend on edge and soon enrols the police to uncover the disappearance.

Wyatt gives a truly menacing performance and steels every bit of screen time and the film cleverly plays a “is-he-isn’t-he” motive to things which keeps the audience guessing until the end and although it is “based on true events” the fictionalised plot could have been given a more meandering character device to play at least a few suspects to the whodunnit before the reveal.

While the film is built on a modest budget, it does well for the most part to really grapple with its subject and handles it more like a serialised drama than a slasher film, something that could have made this more against the better judgement of its core message and leaving notes. As a result, there’s not a lot of familiar tropes for horror fans to “enjoy” but instead there’s a deeper morality in the disappearance and capture of Eve and understanding how the girls under captivity survive.

The script is overdone with exposition and often feels less genuine than it should which will keep some viewers from enduring this piece of film. Parts of the script are read out as if the reader is not in film but instead hidden behind a veil that means no emotion needs sparing, this can be distracting in certain scenes of terror but fortunately there are much better central performances that carry the film forward.

Despite the films low budget, it plays it safe with what it can do and never risks putting a suspension of disbelief as most mainstream horrors give. While not all performances are equal, at least Lemon and Wyatt give enough to hold the film together and the shocking realisation in the films closing moments is as a haunting reminder that the true horror is real.

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