This Day in Horror

30 April 2012

The Fields 2011 - REVIEW

Who doesn't love a good, creepy corn field movie? It's the stuff that nightmares are made of right? Oh, the things that can come out of a corn field... scarecrows hell bent on revenge (Dark Night of the Scarecrow), aliens intent on taking over earth (Signs) or winged creatures on a 23 day feeding frenzy (Jeepers Creepers II). I remember back in '84 when Children of the Corn came out, I don't know if it was because I was little or not but that movie scared the hell out of me. Just the thought that there could possibly be sadistic kids out there like Isaac (John Franklin) and Malachai (Courtney Gains) terrified me.

A young boy (Joshua Ormond) goes to live with his grandparents (Cloris Leachman and Bev Appleton) while his mother (Tara Reid) and father (Faust Checho) fight to save their failing marriage, and makes a horrifying discovery in the corn field behind their house during the Manson Family trials. Warned by his protective grandmother to stay away from the sprawling fields, young Steven nevertheless strays into the stalks and sees something he will never forget. Meanwhile, as the nightly newscasts offer all the lurid details of the Manson murders, something begins to stir in the corn field. By the time the family dogs disappear and the threat becomes real, it's already too late to run, and Steven must face his greatest fear head on.

I don't care what anyone else says, I thought there was solid acting throughout this film. Leachman was hilarious when she was suppose to be and serious when the script called for it. The relationship between her and Appleton as a married couple reminded me so much of my own grandparents it's was scary. At times it was like they hated each other, especially since they spent half the film screaming and cursing, but when it came right down to it, they really did love each other. Newcomer Ormond is a natural and I expect we'll see a lot from him in the future. Reid, donning a really bad wig, was her normal wooden self but as little as she was on screen, it didn't really affect the film at all. Checho I thought lacked a little with his performance as the abusive, domineering husband. I just didn't get that vibe from him which is great in the real world but not so good when the role calls for it.

Directing duo Tom Mattera and David Mazzoni do an awesome job building up the atmosphere of the film and succeed at creating a stylish, classy film. However, it wasn't without it's flaws. Let me explain... Having all the information needed to understand a film is a necessity and leaving things out can definitely hurt it. That said, adding elements that aren't relevant to the story can also hurt it. There's a happy median in there somewhere that this film just didn't hit. Some viewers will find the "too much information" bothersome but for me it wasn't so distracting that it took away from the film. Another issue I had with the film has more to do with the marketing than anything else. It's billed as a horror film when technically it's not. It's an uneasy, unsettling suspense thriller but it's not a horror. I would definitely recommend this film to fans of the genre. It's a great starter film so if you know someone who really isn't that into horror and you want to ease them in, this is the film to use.

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