The cornfields are favorite of TV and cinema's baddest apples — from the Billy Mumy Twilight Zone episode to the Nicky Santoro mob hit in Casino, and from Isaac in Children of the Corn up to the Creeper in Jeepers Creepers 2, stalking amongst the stalks is fine fodder for fright nights.
Recently picked up a distribution deal with Fabrication Films (I believe it'll be seeable by all sometime in April of 2012), The Fields is a chiller set in the early 1970s about a young boy who finds the body of a murdered young woman in the cornfield behind his grandparent's farmhouse. Steven (Joshua Ormond) keeps the information to himself at first, but when he shares the story with Grandpa (Bev Appleton), he's not believed anyway. As the corpse rots, Steven tries to go on and deal with his new lot in life — his mother (Tara Reid), having fled from her husband's abuse (Faust Checho), dumped her son off with her parents; and having no friends, as the only neighbors are a commune of Manson'esque hippies — but doesn't fare too well as the lure of the cornfields becomes irresistible.
Mainly predicated on mood and atmosphere, The Fields succeeds in having a strong cast. (OK, so Tara Reid isn't strong exactly, but she and her wig don't get in the way too much.) Ormond is a natural, as is Cloris Leachman as Grandma Gladys. To what could be a one dimensional character, she brings a prickly warmth and humor. The slick, well-composed cinematography by Daniel Watchulonis and the quirky, smart original score by John Avarese go hand in hand to present a film that looks and sounds better than it should given its limited budget and spare setting.
While some tightening in the editing room would have been a good move, and even though the inherent elements of suspense weren't really exploited, I liked The Fields overall. The family dynamic and the drama takes precedence over horror and mystery, but if you're in the mood for a quiet, spooky little period piece, you could do worse.
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Reviewed by Staci Layne Wilson