First off I want to apologize to Breaking Glass Pictures, the fine folks who released The Fields on the viewing public last week. I usually try my best to get all my reviews done prior to release day, but this one somehow slipped through the cracks and I missed it. Guess I’ve been watching too much NHL Playoffs (Go Devils!!). I was taught better late than never, so lets get too it.
The Fields is set in rural Pennsylvania during the year 1973, when the televisions of America were littered with coverage of the Charles Manson trial. Young Steven is extremely interested in the mass murderer, and can’t stop watching whenever possible. On top of that, he bears witness to true life violence when he walks in on his father holding a shotgun to his mother’s head. Thankfully nothing happens, and Steven is shipped out to his grandparents farm while mom and dad work out their problems. While on the farm Steven is given one simple rule to follow, “Stay out of the cornfield.” Being a former adolescent myself I know that’s easier said than done. Before long, Steven is lost in the maize maze. That’s when things begin to get a tad strange. Steven begins to hear voices coming from the cornfield, the family dog mysteriously disappears, and visitors begin showing up at all hours of the night. Who, or what is haunting this young man, and what is it gonna take to stop it?
The Fields is a very effective thriller. It uses it’s strongest assets, the setting and cast, to full advantage. There aren’t too many places that can make a person feel more isolated than being in the middle of a cornfield, and directors Tom Materra and David Mazzoni use their locations perfectly. Along the same lines, the farmhouse and the dairy where Steven and his grandfather visit also feel like they were pulled directly out of 1973.
Like I mentioned above, the cast in The Fields is as close to perfection as you will get, especially for an independently produced picture. Cloris Leachman and Bev Appleton as the grandparents are absolutely phenomenal. Cloris was the spot on tough love grandmother. As usual she was a tad on the vulgar side to add a little needed comedy to the movie, but you could really feel her love for the young boy. Add in the fact that she shared her love for scary movies with the boy (they are shown watching both Night of the Living Dead and Carnival of Souls) and I am a little envious that she wasn’t my grandmother. On the flip side you have Bev the grandfather and he’s as sweet on the boy as can be. He just oozed love for the child, especially when things start to pick up and he goes into protection mode. Fantastic casting!
I also wanna give young Joshua Ormond some credit as well for playing Steven. He is an unknown actor, but did a great job as well. For you Tara Reid fans, she does receive top billing on the movie, but is only here to bookend the movie. I’m not saying she does a bad job (she’s actually quite believable as Steven’s mother) but don’t rush out to buy it just for her. You may be slightly disappointed.
The only real issue I had with The Fields was the finale. The entire movie was a slow paced thriller building the suspense, but everything seemed to wrap up within mere minutes. I was a bit underwhelmed when all was said and done. That’s not to say that there aren’t others who will disagree. On a side note, the movie is based on a true story so perhaps that’s just the way it all came to a halt. If so, I can’t fault the producers for trying to keep it accurate. As a viewer I was dissatisfied.
If you haven’t been giving Breaking Glass Pictures any attention lately, perhaps now is the time. Just about everything they’ve been releasing has been above average or better, and when you’re looking at low budget movies thats all you can ask for. I can’t help but look forward to what is next, as I am rarely disappointed in what I am about to watch. The Fields, while not the perfect movie, was no exception as it was a creepy thriller right up to the ending.