The Fields (2011)

Description (from thefieldsmovie.com):
The Fields is a psychological thriller based on true events that occurred in the fall of 1973.  A young boy and his family find the safety and solitude of their small farm shattered by a mysterious presence emerging from the vast cornfields surrounding their small farm. Violence escalates as they struggle to find out what comes for them from…the fields.

Major Cast:
Cloris Leachman as Gladys, Tara Reid as Bonnie, Joshua Ormond as Steven, Bev Appleton as Hiney, Faust Checho as Barry

Special Features:
None (Screener)

Written by Harrison Smith
Directed by Tom Mattera and David Mazzoni

When THE FIELDS first arrived, I looked at the poster and all I could think was “why would you make a horror film with Tara Reid and Cloris Leachman?”  I mean, seriously: Tara.  Reid.  Cloris.  Leachman.  Aka, Bunny Lebowski and Frau Blücher.  “This will be a train wreck of a horror flick,” I thought.  I’m very happy to say I was very wrong.

C’mon, who hasn’t wanted to see this?

First off, THE FIELDS is not a “horror” film, though I was expecting as much from Breaking Glass Pictures.  It is really a very suspenseful drama more than anything else.  It is the story of Steven, whose parents are fighting – Daddy put a gun to Mommy’s face kind of fighting – so he is sent to spend time with his grandparents in the countryside of Pennsylvania.  When he gets out to the country, he is quickly drawn to the corn field behind their house, which his Grandma warns him not to go in because “we’ll never find you and you’ll die and be black and swollen” or something happy and fuzzy along those lines.  Of course, being a little kid, he goes in… and finds a dead girl.  I guess she didn’t listen to her Grandma.  From that point, there is something going on in those fields, someone (or something) that is there to throw back sticks, something that wants Steven to return, or even something to come and get him.

THE FIELDS scares you with shadows, with what it DOESN’T show.

THE FIELDS is a classic suspense film.  There are no jump scares to speak of, there is no gore; there are no cheap or superficial scares.  What THE FIELDS has going for it is an overall feeling of dread, a building atmosphere of creepiness and oddity.  There is just something not quite right about most every character in THE FIELDS, and this in addition to the very odd situations presented and overall dreariness of the story and the images works to a slow-burn that finally comes together with an all out assault on the Grandparents house by unseen forces.  Please take note: if you are the kind of person that really thought the re-makes of FRIDAY THE 13th or THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE were top-notch scares, this is NOT the film for you.  You will probably be bored as hell and cursing the time you have “wasted” watching it.  However, if you enjoyed films like ROSEMARY’S BABY, or THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL – films that take their time to build up suspense – then you will enjoy THE FIELDS.  It is that sort of scary movie.

There are a lot of thing to laud in THE FIELDS, from the camera work, to the images presented (and that fact that a low-budget movie faithfully recreated 1973), to the script, to the acting.  There weren’t really a whole lot of things NOT to like about the movie, if you can stand a film that is in no hurry to get where it is going. THE FIELDS was shot in HD, and the image quality is very nice overall.  The colors have, for the most part, been muted into a constantly dreary overcast afternoon sort of palette, which beautifully adds to the sense of impending dread.  Also, the filmmakers were not afraid to set a lot of the film in the dark, and do a really good job about making the images on screen just light enough to be able to be watched, but not so light to take away from the darkness being presented.  Along with the image quality is the camera work; the images presented are very often from a very voyeuristic view – the camera stalks Steven, or peers out of the fields at Grandpa – which again adds to the overall sense of dread that THE FIELDS does such a good job of evoking.

Gotta love a “looking into a can” camera angle

THE FIELDS also excels in its story and its presentation of that story through the action.  It is very slow, very methodical in its presentation of the story of Steven, and THE FIELDS does not wuss out by throwing in a supernatural killer or a slasher into the mix.  This is very much a psychologically, not visually, terrifying film.  The story is carried beautifully on the shoulders of (most of) the actors.  Leachman is amazing as Gladys (I love that Granny swears so much!), and her experience shows as she can relate a lot of fear, a lot of trepidation, and a lot of longing in just a single glance.  Right in line with her performance is Appleton as Hiney, whose wealth of experience also shines.  Checho’s Barry is good, not as good as the veterans but he holds his own.  I’d really, really like to say that THE FIELDS is the movie that changed my opinion on Reid, but nope.  While she has her moments, overall she was by far the weakest of the main cast.  The shining star of the film is by far Ormond.  He is so incredibly believable in everything he does that he seems like he must be just a very small, baby-faced man who has decades of acting experience, rather than a kid who has been alive for a little more than a decade.

There are some drawbacks to THE FIELDS.  The colors of the film change on some scenes, and unless I’m missing it they change with no discernable reason.  The story itself does get a bit muddy in places, and I was pretty confused with the ending.  I have no problem with a film leaving things open to interpretation, or having loose ends, but the end of THE FIELDS really just left me scratching my head (though the post-script was a really nice extra touch of creepiness).  Also, this is a really, REALLY slow movie (as I think I might have mentioned before), and while I do love that slow-burn type of flick, THE FIELDS really takes it to the extreme.  Luckily it throws in just enough scariness to keep me from getting bored (he’s under the bed!), but I don’t know if everyone will be as forgiving to the pace as I am.

Nope, not even with you as my escort would I be going into that field, thank you.

Overall, THE FIELDS is a really great suspense-filled drama.  I think the fact that it comes off as a horror film really short-changes the movie, because it is not a horror film at all.  It is scary, yes, but it is not a horror, and it really seemed like it should be.  If you go into THE FIELDS expecting CHILDREN OF THE CORN you will be very disappointed.  If you go in ready to give the film its time to build the story, to build the terror, I think you will greatly enjoy THE FIELDS.  I did.

Overall 8 / 10

MOVIE on the IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1401236/

MOVIE for sale: http://www.breakingglasspictures.com/index.php?option=com_jmovies&Itemid=2&task=detail&id=145 (DVD)
http://www.breakingglasspictures.com/index.php?option=com_jmovies&Itemid=2&task=detail&id=147 (Blu-Ray)

MOVIE site: http://www.thefieldsmovie.com

The Fields (2011)
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