"The Fields" on DVD

Wednesday, 29 August 2012 08:47

Media

The Fields - out now on DVD“The Fields” is based on the disturbing, childhood memories of writer B Harrison Smith. In 1973, young Steven (Joshua Ormand) is shipped off to his mother’s grandparents’ farm when his folks go through one row too many. The farm, run by Gladys (Cloris Leachman – “Young Frankenstein”, “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”) and Hiney (Bev Appleton – “The New World”), is surrounded by fields of unkempt, rotting corn twice Steven’s height.

Steven is warned not to venture into the maize but, being a fearless and inquisitive soul, he dives in and witnesses some strange and terrifying sights. As his parents (Tara Reid and Faust Checho) try to work out their differences, his grandparent’s property comes under increasingly aggressive attack from unseen assailants. What horrors lurk in the corn fields and why is the family being targeted? “The Fields” has quite a lot in common with M Night Shyamalan’s super-subtle, alien invasion flick “Signs”, though the baddies in this case are definitely not from outer space - and you had the chance to win one of three copies of this DVD which we had up for grabs in our prize competition.

It is first and foremost a superbly understated character piece, rather than a fast-paced and action-packed gorefest. The tension and action certainly does ramp up dramatically in the last 20 minutes, though! It is like a Stephen King adaptation but without the archness one tends to associate with King’s novels and the movies based on them.

The most prominent characters are Gladys, a very warm, caring, talkative and occasionally expletive-spouting old lady, Hiney, her more subdued husband who none-the-less displays an impressively gutsy willingness to stand up for his family and his property, and Steven himself. In the small boy’s case, though he does not actually say much, he does most of his acting through his cherubic, Cabbage Patch Doll-like face. The performances are naturalistic and believable, which fits in with the ‘based on actual events’ premise of the movie.

Those looking for predictability and unequivocal plot developments will be lost and probably disappointed. Directors Tom Mattera and David Mazzoni stick with the cloudy and disjointed nature of the writer’s childhood memories, such that much of the film, as seen through Steven’s eyes, is part reality, part imagination, or at least a child’s confused interpretation of the real world. This gives the story a dream-like quality where you are often unsure whether the danger is genuine or not, which in a way is more unnerving than a clear-cut approach.

The towering, dead and decomposing corn fields are a character in their own right, always rustling and swaying in the breeze, suggestively hinting at the terrors that might lie within their darker recesses, and offering instant disorientation to anyone foolish enough to wander beyond the first few rows of diseased plants.

The use of colour and shade is used effectively, the former often being drained out of the image as though the corn is sucking the life out of everything that comes too close. Some of Steven’s adventures or visions are suddenly awash with bold colours to accentuate their dreaminess. The sound design helps to create a powerful tapestry, combining effective music with a chorus of whispers, haunting children’s laughter, animal and insect calls.

This release is sadly devoid of any special features, which is something of a missed opportunity when an interview with the writer would surely have been insightful, not least to see how much artistic licence was used.

“The Fields" (2011) is out now, courtesy of Arrow Films. The main feature has a running time of 95 mins approx., carries a ‘15’ certificate and retails for £12.99, or less from www.culttvstore.com

Thanks to Arrow Films and Cult TV, you had a chance to win one of three copies of the DVD we had up for grabs in our prize competition. To enter the competition, you had to view the movie trailer at the bottom of this page, and then answer the following question about the movie:

What object is thrown out of the corn fields during the trailer? Is it:

a)       A ball

b)       A bone

c)       A stick

The answer was (c), A Stick, and the lucky winners were Jo Hutchinson of Gloucester, Geoff Leone of Arbroath, and Annamaria Lewis of Alfreton.  Well done all!

Last modified on Thursday, 13 September 2012 07:59

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