As a Prelude to Fear opens with a quote from Benjamin Franklin “Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.” and a note telling us that it’s based on real events. Personally I don’t think justice will be served until filmmakers stop claiming everything is based on real events no matter how tenuous the connection.
Eve (Lara Lemon, Chinese Burns, Deadly Intent) is a cellist. She needs a new instructor though because her last one was such an asshole she couldn’t stand him anymore. Her new instructor tells her to meet him at a café. Her boyfriend Jamie (Jamie Langlands, Dragonflies Only Live for 24 Hours, Under the Crystal Dome) is concerned about this but still just drops her off and drives away. She no sooner gets to the café than she gets a call, on the cafe’s phone no less, to meet the instructor at a nearby farmhouse.
You’ve seen that meme with the creepy cave with the sign that says “Meet Santa” on it? Well this is an obviously deserted and decrepit looking building with a note saying “Cello lessons inside” on it. Unsurprisingly she’s chloroformed and taken away by a leather gloved figure.
Director Steph Du Melo (C.A.M.) and his co-writers Jacob Coen and Roger Wyatt start As a Prelude to Fear off in the style of a horror film as we’ve seen in the prelude what happens to this guy’s victims. But then they turn it into a police procedural.
Jamie just happens to report Eve’s disappearance to D.S Dobson (Lucy Drive, Invasion Planet Earth, Zombie Massacre 2: Reich of the Dead) whose boss DCS Barnbrook (Francis Magee, The Witcher, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) nearly had his career destroyed by a string of similar disappearances attributed to “The Pied Piper”. The chief suspect? Eve’s instructor Giles Corcoran (Roger Wyatt).
As a Prelude to Fear cuts back and forth between the police working on the case and Eve in captivity. She occasionally talks to another captive who has been there for fourteen years. Their captor has a tendency to torture them if they don’t follows his rules. It’s not exactly Saw level torture and mostly happens off-screen. Eventually Jamie decides he can get better, or at least quicker, results than the cops and starts his own investigation. Splitting the story into three doesn’t help it any, just as we get invested in what’s going on it moves to a different thread.
Of the three the police investigation tends to be the most interesting, but even it’s long on talk and short anything thrilling. It also doesn’t help that it only offers up one suspect rather than giving us a few to puzzle over. The cast do the best they can with the material, but As a Prelude to Fear feels like it should have been made for TV film. Or maybe done in two parts so the various storylines could have been developed into something more interesting.
I will give DeMelo credit, As a Prelude to Fear is a big improvement over C.A.M. but it still just reaches the level of watchable. It might do if you’re in an undemanding mood and are one of those folk who like to hear British accents. But those looking for a mystery to work through while enjoying a thriller with elements of horror will probably find it lacking.
The email I got with the screener for As a Prelude to Fear said it would be available on DVD, Blu-Ray and Digital from the 19th of December. However, that’s a Sunday which is not a day things are usually released. You might find more information on the film’s website.