July 8, 2012

Filthy Review - The Fields

The Fields (2011)

Review by Jude Felton

When a film release is accompanied with the words “based on actual events” it is always very easy to take it with a pinch of salt. Quite often it is nothing more than a marketing gimmick used in order to hype up the movie. In the case of The Fields though, there is nothing that happens that would leave the viewer in any doubt that this was a statement of fact, albeit embellished slightly for theatrical effect. The truth of the matter is that The Fields is a movie grounded very much in reality.

The Fields follows the story of a young boy named Steven, who during the summer of 1973, moves out to stay with his grandparents in rural Pennsylvania while his parents work through their marital problems. Whilst staying there news of the Manson cult is the big story of the day, and Steven finds himself fascinated by it. Equally as fascinating is the sprawling corn fields that surround his Grandparents house.  He is warned not to enter the fields, for his own good. He’s a young boy though, and telling a young boy not to do something is an open invitation to indeed to that.

The combined effects of the mysterious cornfields, the news reports of the Manson cult and late nights watching horror films with Grandma (Cloris Leachman) seem to instill a paranoia in young Steven. He’s heard news of another cult that has taken up residency nearby, and this all culminates in Steven’s fear that something is stalking him and his Grandparents.

The Fields works so well because the focus of the film is squarely on Steven and his Grandparents, and their interaction. The exterior events serve to forward the main plot, but they are almost secondary to the family life, and only slowly come into play. One thing is certain though and that is that The Fields is a real slowburner of a movie that gradually raises the fear level the further the movie goes. There are more than a few genuinely creepy movies that will get the hairs on the neck going. There is no cheap jump scares on display, just a gradual and impending menace that surrounds the film.

If the cast wasn’t as strong as it was then none of this would have worked, but directors Tom Materra and David Mazzoni have placed the focus of the film on the central characters, and all pull it off superbly. The aforementioned Cloris Leachman, who won an Academy Award for her role in the 1971 film The Last Picture Show, is superb as Gladys (Steven’s Grandma); she’s a no nonsense woman who thinks the world of her Grandson. Equally impressive is Joshua Ormond as the curious Steven and Tom McCarthy as Grandpa, who will defend his family at any cost. Also of note in the cast is Tara Reid, who is probably best known for roles in comedies like American Pie and Van Wilder, as Steven’s mother. Her role is relatively small, appearing only at the beginning and then towards the end, but she plays it well and is miles away from the previously mentioned films.

The Fields was a thoroughly engaging film that made wonderful use of its rural Pennsylvanian location, which itself adds another character to the film. It is a slow and methodical movie that won’t appeal to those with an attention deficiency, however, the patient viewer should appreciate the well-crafted and creepy story that unfolds.

The Blu-ray release of The Fields comes with a few extras, including Cloris Outtakes, The Making of The Fields, World Premiere with Cloris, some behind the scenes featurettes and the required Photo Gallery and Trailer section. Breaking Glass Pictures have delivered a very worthy Blu-ray, with the picture and sound being terrific throughout. The fact that the film itself is a little gem can only serve to make this a worthy addition to any genre film fan’s collection.

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