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Fields, The (DVD)

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The FieldsStarring Cloris Leachman, Tara Reid, Joshua Ormond, Bev Appleton, Brian Anthony Wilson

Directed by Tom Mattera and David Mazzoni

Distributed by Breaking Glass Pictures


In the independent thriller The Fields, we’re transported back to the world of 1973 when Charles Manson and his followers were global news items after the infamous murders that claimed the lives of several innocent people including actress Sharon Tate.

And while the Manson Murders are certainly a thematic element simmering within the story of The Fields, this tale actually takes places in the Pennsylvania countryside after young parents Bonnie (Tara Reid) and Charlie (Brian Anthony Wilson) realize their marriage is in serious trouble after a fight when Charlie gets so furious, he pulls a gun on Bonnie in front of their son Steven (Joshua Ormond).

While they take some time to work things out, Steven is sent to live with his grandparents Gladys (Cloris Leachman) and Hiney (Bev Appleton) on their farm. On the way to his grandparents place, Steven hears a news report about the Manson Murders and begins to worry that Manson’s infamous “Family” is going to come after him while he sleeps.

Once he gets to the farm, Gladys sets one ground rule: don’t go into the corn fields and of course, where is one of the first places Steven goes exploring? Yup, the same corn fields he’s supposed to stay out of. One day while he gets lost deep in the creepy corn fields, he discovers a young woman’s body and begins to suspect that a group a transient hippies that have taken to squatting in the small town have made their way to his grandparents’ farm and are up to no good.

Sadly, that’s about it in terms of plot development in The Fields as the film really doesn’t do much in the way of story, character development or entertainment either and frankly when it tries, it doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense at all. Even with the Manson Murders worked in there as an attempt to set an ominous tone, filmmakers Tom Mattera and David Mazzoni pretty much squander that away and deliver a snoozefest of a flick- a great looking and well-made snoozefest but a snoozefest nonetheless.

The biggest flaws come in the way of the story and the fact that very little actually happens in The Fields; there’s a lot of creepy set-ups with the potential for some clever little cinematic moments and yet, those moments never go anywhere. The older cast in the flick is surprisingly solid though; Leachman is great as the lovable but hardnosed grandmother and delivers a rather lovely performance. She has wonderful chemistry with Appleton who portrays her husband and shockingly enough, the notoriously not-great Reid is actually pretty enjoyable in The Fields and seems like she’s back to almost caring about her career again.

Let’s hope if she wants to continue doing genre films that she picks more interesting projects in the future.

The weak link in terms of casting is Ormond as Steven who is the heart of this story and is front and center throughout most of the film. He’s not terrible necessarily; he’s just not compelling enough to ever get drawn in by and spends most of the movie blankly staring at us, his co-stars and often times- at nothing at all. He’s a cute kid but he’s just not ready for stardom yet and seemed to be as bored by the lack of story going on in The Fields as this writer was.

On a technical level, the look of The Fields is pretty decent for an independent feature, save for a few awkwardly shot scenes here and there and a couple of night scenes that ended up being a little too dark; the pacing though leaves a lot to be desired too because you always feel like the directors are leading to something (a la the “Ti West Slow Burn” approach) but here, everything we see leads up to absolutely zilch in terms of a payoff.

In terms of the extra goodies on the DVD release of The Fields, they end up being slightly more entertaining than the movie they’re being released with. There are several featurettes including “Behind the Scenes: The Making of The Fields” which clocks in at 19 minutes, “Real Stories & Faces Behind the Film” which explores some of the real-life inspirations behind the film, a gag reel called “Hey, No Funny Stuff” and finally “Ladies & Gentlemen, Cloris Leachman!” which is another gag reel featuring the brilliant and hilarious actress attempting to do an intro to the film.
A photo gallery and standard trailer are included on the DVD release of The Fields as well.

Overall, The Fields is pretty much a skippable affair unless you’ve had some insomnia going on lately and need a remedy or you’re just really curious; by no means is the flick terrible, it’s just very bland and lacks any sort of thrilling aspects that one would come to expect from a ‘thriller.’ Hardened horror fans will definitely want to avoid taking a trip to The Fields any time soon.

Special Features

  • Four featurettes
  • Gag reel
  • Photo gallery
  • Trailer

    Film

    2 out of 5

    Special Features:

    3 out of 5

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    American Psycho Meets Creep – Strawberry Flavored Plastic Review

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    Starring Aidan Bristow, Nicholas Urda, Andres Montejo

    Directed by Colin Bemis


    Recently I wrote up an article here on Dread Central which was basically an open letter to anyone who was listening called “I Miss Found Footage.” Well, it seems like someone WAS listening, as I was then sent the link to an all-new found footage film called Strawberry Flavored Plastic from first-time writer-director Colin Bemis.

    The film follows the “still-at-large crimes of Noel, a repentant, classy and charming serial killer loose in the suburbs of New York.” Basically, you could think of the flick as American Psycho meets Mark Duplass and Partick Brice’s Creep. That, or you could think of it as “Man Bites Dog in color!” However you choose to label Colin Bemis’ psychological thriller, just make sure you check out the film once it hits in the future.

    As I alluded to above, the film is basically a found footage version of American Psycho. But that said, the film sports a twist on the charming serial killer subgenre that I have yet to see play out in any of the above-mentioned classics. I’m not going to go into spoiler territory here, but I will say that the film introduces an element to the tale that spins it into much more of a character drama than a straight horror film. Not that there is anything wrong with that!

    Truth be told, the film’s turn from serial killer flick into a layered character study might have been its kiss of death, but this slight genre switch is rendered a minor issue as the film’s central narcissistic antagonist is played by Aidan Bristow. Bristow is an actor you may not have heard of before this review, but you will hear his name more and more over the years to come, I promise. The guy gives (no pun intended) a killer performance as the film’s resident serial killer Noel Rose, and time after time surprised me with how chilling, charming, or downright vulnerable he chose to play any given scene.

    Bristow’s performance is, in the end, the major element the film has going for it. But that said, as a fan of found footage, I was smiling ear to ear at first-time director Colin Bemis’ understanding of what makes a found footage suspense sequence work.

    In Strawberry Flavored Plastic director Colin Bemis is confident and content to allow full emotional scenes to play out with the camera directed at nothing more than a character’s knees. Why is this so important? Because it keeps the reality of the film going. Too many found footage directors would focus on the actors’ faces during such emotional scenes – no matter how contrived the camera angle was. In this film, however, Bemis favors the reality that says, “If you were really in this emotional state and holding a camera, you would let it drop to your side.” I agree, and it is small touches like that which make the film feel authentic and thus – once the shite hits the fan – all the scarier.

    On the dull side of the kitchen knife, the film does feel a bit long even given it’s short running time, and there doesn’t seem too much in the way of visceral horror to be found within. Again, graphic blood and gore aren’t a must in a fright flick, but a tad more of the old ultra-violence would have gone a long way in selling our main psychopath’s insanity and unpredictability. But all the same, the film does feature a rather shocking sequence where our main baddie performs a brutal home invasion/murder that puts this film firmly in the realm of horror. In fact, the particular POV home invasion scene I’m talking about holds about as much horror as you’ll ever wish to witness.

    In the end, Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic is a must-see for fans of found footage and serial killer studies such as American Pyscho, Creep, and Man Bites Dog. I recommend giving it a watch once it premieres. If only to be able to point to Aidan Bristow in the near future and tell all your friends that you watched (one of) his first movies.

    Until then, check out the film’s trailer HERE, and follow the movie on Facebook.

    • Strawberry Flavored Plastic
    3.5

    Summary

    Lead actor Aidan Bristow turns in a star-making performance in Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic, a found footage film that plays out like Man Bites Dog in Color before introducing a new element to the charming-serial-killer subgenre and becoming more character study than a straight horror. Think American Psycho meets Creep.

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    Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 148 – Inside (2017 Remake)

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    We’ve all heard the old saying, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Well, I’m here to tell you that’s only partially true. It seems there is a third certainty that had been omitted from the original quote, “It is certain, if you enjoy a movie, at some point someone will remake that movie.” Now is the time when one of my favorite movies gets reimagined, “for an American audience”.

    In the late 2000’s an explosion of “French extreme” horror films was released. Martyrs and or High Tension can often be found on any number of lists of the “most fucked up horror movies ever”. Unfortunately, the vastly superior Inside is often forgotten (as well as Frontier(s), but that’s a whole ‘nother rant). Now, ten years after it’s initial release, Inside has been Americanized. Don’t worry, we watched it so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.

    Mommy says you’re not dead. Is that true? It’s the Who Goes There Podcast episode 148!

    If you like what you hear, please consider joining our Patreon subscribers. For less than the cost of a beer, you get bonus content, exclusive merchandise, special giveaways, and you get to help us continue doing what we love.

    The Who Goes There Podcast is available to subscribe to on iTunes right here. Not an iTunes user? You can listen on our Dread Central page. Can’t get enough? We also do that social media shit. You’ll find us on FacebookTwitterInstagramTwitch, and YouTube.

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    Totem Review – It’s Not Always A Bad Thing To Look Up From The Bottom Level, If You Like That View

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    Starring Kerris Dorsey, James Tupper, Ahna O’Reilly

    Directed by Marcel Sarmiento


    Following the untimely death of a family’s matriarchal figure, a young woman finds out that managing to hold all of the pieces in place becomes increasingly more difficult when otherworldly infiltrators make their presence felt. We’re going to have to work our way up this Totem, as

    17 year old Kellie is the leading lady of the home following the passing of her mother Lexy, and with a needy father and tiny tot of a baby sister, she still keeps things in working order, regardless of the rather large hole that’s been left in the dynamic due to the death. Kellie’s dad after a while decides to ask his lady-friend to move in with the family, so that everyone can move onto a more peaceful existence…yeah, because those types of instances always seem to work seamlessly. As fate would have it, Kellie’s sense of pride is now taking a beating with the new woman in the mix, and her little sister’s new “visitor” is even more disturbed by this intruder – only question is, exactly who is this supernatural pal of sorts? Is it the spirit of their dead mother standing by to keep watch over the family, or is it something that’s found its way to this group, and has much more evil intentions at hand?

    What works here is the context of something innately malicious that has found its way into the home – there are only a couple moments that come off as unsettling, but the notion of having to weave through more than half the film acting as a sullen-teen drama is rather painful. The presentation of the “broken family” is one that’s been done to death, and with better results overall, and that’s not to say that the movie is a complete loss, it just takes far too much weeding through at times stale performances and even more stagnant pacing to get to a moderately decent late-stage conclusion to the film. Under the direction of Marcel Sarmiento (Deadgirl), I’d truly hoped for something a bit more along the lines of a disturbing project such as that one, but the only thing disturbing was the time I’d invested in checking this one out. My best advice is to tune into the Lifetime channel if you want a sulky teen-melodrama with a tinge of horror, or you could simply jump into this one and work your way up…but it’s a LONG way to the top.

    • Film
    2.0

    Summary

    Sulky, moody, and ridden with teen-angst buried in the middle of a supernatural mystery – SOUNDS like a decent premise, doesn’t it?

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