Fallow Field, The (UK DVD)
Directed by Leigh Dovey
Distributed by Monster Pictures
Matt Sadler (Garry) is a man with a peculiar affliction. Every so often, he finds himself waking up in a field in the middle of nowhere with no memory of how or why he came to be in this position. With each disappearance seeing him vanish from the face of the Earth for up to a week, it's unsurprising that his relationships with not only his wife, but his mistress too, are strained to breaking point. After returning from his most recent stint into the unknown, Matt's long-suffering wife orders him out, and so he sets off to the place where he last woke up in search of answers.
This search takes him to a remote farmhouse owned by the reclusive Calham (Dacre), who doesn't take very long to reveal a particularly murderous and disturbing predilection. You see, while Matt may not know it, this isn't the first time he's been involved in the psycho farmer's activities... and it may not be the last, either.
To say any more about just what lies at the core of director Leigh Dovey's indie debut would be to give away the entire game, but let's just say that with The Fallow Field he delivers a well crafted, startling and thoughtful slice of old-school British horror. Story and character matter here beyond spectacle, and thankfully his lead players prove more than capable of bringing their opposing personalities to life. Dacre in particular is laudable in his turn as the wrathful and unhinged Calham, providing not only the antagonistic core of the film but effortlessly delivering the particularly uncomfortable question that will have every audience member shifting in their seats: If you had the ability to do just what the titular field allows, how would you behave?
Dovey's resources are obviously limited, meaning The Fallow Field regularly belies its low budget nature despite the story's intimacy, however direction and cinematography remain confident and capable. Slow burn pacing in the first act proves a particular barrier to entry before the intriguing nature of the narrative can fully take hold, but by the point Dovey diverts from potential torture-porn territory into someone much more interesting and the conflict begins, The Fallow Field grips tight and refuses to let go, winding down an unpredictable path of classical Hammer-esque sensibilities and existential mind games. Here we have an extremely strong debut feature -- an effective, crawling horror which, having been shot back in 2009, is finally getting the respectable release it deserves.
Monster Pictures' DVD of The Fallow Field sports a high quality transfer in both picture and audio, alongsidea brief stills slideshow, trailer, "Making of" featurette and feature commentary with director Leigh Dovey and producer Colin Arnold. The commentary is an up and down affair filled with a few nice anecdotes and indie filmmaking experiences, but often caught in the trap of self-congratulation and back-slapping. Not that that's a serious problem when it does crop up, however, as Dovey and co. have more than earned that right with their efforts in The Fallow Field.
4 out of 5
2 1/2 out of 5