Sunday, July 14, 2013

Corn fields, a constant source of trouble.


Well hello there. Your old pal Ken Bucklesworth here, back after a small hiatus to give you my thoughts on a flick from 2011 that I finally got around to watching last night.  "The Fields" is a movie that has been on my 'to watch' list for quite some time now, but for one reason or another, it got pushed back.  And I'll be perfectly honest, one of those reasons is that I'm not the biggest fan of movies where child actors are a main focus.  Many times the child actor isn't all that good of a performer, or the character played by that child is a little monster of a kid that I just can't stand.  Obviously, there are exceptions to this rule (Stand By Me, The Goonies, Mama, to name a few.), but there are enough bad ones out there to make me reluctant.  But enough about my odd mental state, I watched "The Fields," and now I wanna talk about it.  So let's get to it shall we?

"The Fields" centers around 8-year old Steven (Joshua Ormond), who has seen his share of "disputes" from his pro-alcohol mother Bonnie (Tara Reid) and father Barry (Faust Checho).  After a particularly nasty incident where Steven witnesses Barry point a gun at Bonnie's head during an argument, it's decided that Steven should go and stay with his grandparents until things cool down and matters get settled.  Steven has one major rule he has to follow while there: stay out of the huge expanse of corn fields, else he get lost, and as his grandmother Gladys (Cloris Leachman) points out, he'd be "all dead and black and swollen and smelly."

Needless to say, it's not long before Steven breaks that rule, and wanders in.  Surprisingly, he finds a dead body in an open part of the field.  But not surprisingly, nobody believe him.  Which is odd as there was a report of a missing girl in the area.  To make a long story short, the body is forgotten, and Steven moves on with his life, occupying his time as best he can.  But after a while, strange things begin to happen.  Steven starts to hear weird noises at night, odd things happen in the corn fields, a member of a group of hippies who happens to roll into town repeats a song his grandmother sang for him just the other night, and his grandfather's beloved dogs Dixie and Trixie go missing. Even with that, things go from bad to yet worse.  Who is truly responsible for what's happening around there?  Well, that's for me to tease and for you to watch and see for yourself.

Hmm, what should I do after this? A movie with sharks, a disaster movie maybe?

Before I get into what I thought of "The Fields", I feel I should talk a little about the back story behind things.  It was based on real events that happened to the movie's writer Harrison Smith when he was younger.  In 1973, Smith spent time on his grandparents' farm when he was younger, and there was terrorizing going on from the corn fields around the house.  As you might expect, some aspects of the movie beyond that are exaggerated for effect.  For example, the parents were only loosely based on Smith's real parents.

I must say, I did enjoy "The Fields."  But you need to go in knowing what to expect.  I don't know if this qualifies as a minor spoiler or not, but I feel I should say that there is no supernatural aspect to this movie.  I say that because Netflix's description of the movie made it seem like it was possible for something like that to be in it.  And if I got confused by that, it seemed possible that others might as well.  Anyway, let's get into why I liked it.  First off, to my relief, I enjoyed Joshua Ormond's role as Steven.  He was cute and charming, and he reminded me of myself a little bit in that he was shy and loved to explore the world around him, even when he was told he shouldn't.  And I thought he did a fine job acting wise.  Also, I was rooting for things with his parents to clear up so he could be back where he belonged.  

What horrors lay in the corn beyond? Keep out, if of life you are fond.
Elsewhere the acting was also well done.  Reid and Checho were convincing as Steven's troubled parents, and Ray McCarthy was solid as grandpa Hiney.  But I gotta get it out there, Cloris Leachman stole the show for me.  Granted, I haven't seen every role Leachman has ever done, but of the ones I've seen, this is possibly my favorite thus far.  She had me cracking up multiple times with her rantings and unexpected line deliveries.  If someone made a 40 minute short film with just her having a back and forth session with her on-screen husband, I would probably drop whatever I was doing and watch it.  I think what's so great is that the grandparents are apparently accurate to their real-life counterparts, which makes me wish I wish I could have met them.  

 The thing about "The Fields" that some people don't seem to understand is that it's not really a horror movie.  It's listed under horror in Netflix, and it's been talked about on horror websites.  But, while you will find creepy parts in there, it's more accurately defined as a suspense-drama, or a thriller at most.  So going into this movie with the correct mind frame will certainly help with your enjoyment.  Another factor in your enjoyment is your patience level.  Admittedly, not a whole lot happens for a good portion of the movie.  It's what you would call a slow burner.  However, if you immerse yourself in the characters' dialogue and actions, and put yourself in the shoes of an eight year boy exploring the unknown beyond his grandparents house, you won't care that things aren't moving quickly. 

The bottom line?  "The Fields" is a movie that should be given a shot by as many people as possible.  You may not find it the best movie you've ever seen, but it's definitely underrated and is deserving of more good word of mouth.  Which, coincidentally is why I'm here.  Anyway, heed everything I said and watch.  It's easy enough to find (like I mentioned, I saw it on Netflix).  That's all I got.  Have yourselves a merry little summer week.

Movie Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Suspense/Drama Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.

- Ken Bucklesworth, no longer trusting corn fields.

@KenBucklesworth @BoonsBuckles