Che Gilson’s Netflix Roulette #19 – The Fields (2011)

Join Che as she plays Netflix Roulette and watches a randomly selected horror film. Will it be awesome? Will it be torture? What horrors await?? Find out every month with Netflix Roulette!

rsz_1the_fields_posterTitle: The Fields

Year: 2011

Director: Tom Mattera and David Mazzoni

Starring: Tara Reid, Cloris Leachman, Joshua Ormand, Brian Anthony Wilson

Netflix Rating: 2.5 stars

Seen it before: No

First Impressions: OK according to the description an evil presence lurks in the cornfields of a young boy’s grandparents farm… So we’ll find out. But, full disclosure- I love me a haunted farmhouse. OK, I’m a sucker for anything haunted. It says ‘based on true events’ which means it will either be decent or awful. There doesn’t seem to be much in between when it comes to ‘true happenings’ films. And the rating doesn’t bode well…

The Verdict: Well it turned out to be exactly what I didn’t want it to be. A mish-mash of genres, thriller, coming of age, and general WTFery. The fact that it’s disconcerting in the least can be chalked up to some music and an inbred clan of hillbillies living in their mother’s basement (who literally occupy ONE scene- the one uncanniest scene in the entire movie). Otherwise it’s a big fat lot of absolutely nothing happening.

rsz_the_fields_1And no. There is no haunting. Nothing ghostly, and the ‘evil presence’ is a big fat over sell, it’s really just a crazy local and some drifter hippies, and all the action takes place off screen anyway, so you never really find out for sure what’s happening. Why anyone thought this would be a good basis for a movie I have no idea. The problem with films like The Field, is false advertising. Well, that and it’s just not very good. But still- just be honest. Don’t get our hopes up for one thing and deliver something else. This is NOT a horror film. It’s not even really trying to be a horror film. It’s more of an ill-conceived drama.

In 1973 young Steven (Ormand), is sent to live with his grandparents for a time while his mother (Tara Reid) tries to work out her combative relationship with Steven’s father. The grandparents are played by Cloris Leachman and Tom McCarthy. They provide much of the comic relief in the film as they bicker and cuss each other out. There sort of needs to be an entire film of nothing but Cloris Leachman yelling obscenities off-screen. Steven, meanwhile, grows obsessed with grandpa’s cornfields and the Manson Family Murders. Coverage of the murder trial is running constantly on the TV, and Steven keeps asking uncomfortable questions about Charles Manson that his grandparents struggle to answer.

The setting of 1973 is used very well, and provides a milieu of evil hippies, social turbulence and pop-culture references. The sets and costumes are fantastically done and The Fields looks and feels like it was made in the 70s, right down to the film grain. It’s perhaps the films greatest achievement.

rsz_the_fields_2The acting deserves some mention. Not because the performances are terrible, but because they are decent for a B-movie. No one is absolutely terrible, not even Tara Reid. Sadly though, the actors just don’t have much to do aside from walk from place to place looking serious.

The few plusses it offers up can’t disguise the fact that there is very little plot and almost no attempt to craft a story that invests viewers.

Rating: 4/10

Charlie’s Farm (2014) DVD Review

Charlies Farm DVD 2D - FINALCharlie’s Farm (2014)

Writer & Director – Chris Sun

Starring – Nathan Jones, Tara Reid, Kane Hodder, Bill Moseley

UK DVD & Blu-Ray release June 22nd from Monster Pictures UK

Four friends from the suburbs of Australia’s Gold Coast (including honorary Yank, Tara Reid) decide to ditch the beach for the weekend in favour of camping at an allegedly haunted farm. An absurd decision to us Pommies currently suffering an indecisive British summer, but par for the course for any self respecting slasher movie protagonists. The farm in question is the titular Charlie’s Farm; the location of a series of horrific murders in the 1980s.

The cannibalistic Wilson family who lived there (led by father John Wilson, played by horror icon Bill Moseley) would routinely murder and consume any unlucky backpackers and tourists that were passing through. The local townsfolk, having decided that enough was enough, rolled up at the farm mob deep with pitchforks and shotguns at the ready and the vile Wilsons were slain one by one. Legend has it that the tormented ghost of their ‘retarded’ son, Charlie, now haunts the area.

charliesfarm3In a time when slasher movies are few a far between, us faithful fans of the sub-genre are often left disappointed. Not due to their infrequency but due to their (mostly) poor quality. Thankfully, Charlie’s Farm does not disappoint. Writer-director Chris Sun is clearly a huge fan of slashers himself and knows that to make a good one is not to re-invent the wheel but to do the basics, and do them well.

As far as the plot goes, it is very much by the numbers – You will know who is going to die and you will probably even guess what order they will die in, but the fun part is seeing how they die. Nathan Jones portrays Charlie, the hulking killer who systematically wipes out any and all visitors to his farm in brutal fashion. The make-up effects are excellent and the performances of the actors are brilliant across the board, with a special mention to Trudi Ross who puts in a mesmerising turn as Mrs Wilson, Charlie’s protective mother.

charliesfarm2My only real criticism of the film, if you can call it a criticism, is of Kane Hodder’s strange cameo role. His character adds nothing to the actual story and almost felt as if it had been written in at the last minute merely to capitalise on Hodder’s name value. Other than that I have nothing but love for Charlie’s Farm and very much hope that we get a sequel. Chris Sun’s next film, Boar, not only stars Nathan Jones again but also Wolf Creek’s John Jarratt. Maybe I am dreaming, but I would definitely pay good money to see a Mick Taylor vs Charlie Wilson cross over movie!

8/10