Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Dark Fields, or An Interesting Failure.
Hulu.com is really proving to be an excellent site; they have episodes of television shows as well as plenty of movies to chose from, all available to view for free! I was bored a few nights ago and went trolling; Troll 2 was a miss (that is a rare horror movie that I simply can not rewatch. I've tried repeatedly, end up screaming, windows break, then BAM! My damage deposit? Gone.
So I took a gamble on a movie I'd never heard of: Dark Fields, or Farmer Brown, as is its alternate title. It was.. interesting. I have no desire to watch it again, but I'm glad I did, because it's interesting to see an experiment like this, even if it was ultimately, in my opinion, a failure. It's your basic slasher formula, nothing new there. But this was the first movie for what appears to be the whole cast and crew, and I think that inexperience was their main problem.
It's not a new story, teenagers in peril. Pretty basic. But there was one thing that this movie had that the majority of other, forgettable would-be horror movies lack, and that's the age of the principle cast. All of these kids look and act like teenagers because I think they all were teenagers. A good actor can play a teenager when older, but if you want authenticity then there is nothing like the real thing; all of these kids had that sort of rawness to them; all are physically mature but you can tell it's still "new"; hard angles to bodies and the occasional betraying roundness to faces show that these kids aren't long in adult form.
They also have that special brand of obnoxious that only teens can accomplish; the eye rolling and snorting that seemed so mature when you're that age and so fucking infuriating when you're not is perfected here. A lot of the dialogue is clunky and awkward, but the scenes where the teens are jeering at each other came across as very sincere and believable. The opening scenes are shot in an actual school and what appeared to be actual classes, that was also a very intriguing choice. I'd like to see more movies try to copy this approach. I can understand why it's not going to happen that often, but it's still cool to see actual angst-ridden brats slamming their lockers shut and twirling their locks with ease of practice. The extras were all teens, and again, more movies need to do this. No more young-looking twenty-six year olds, movie industry! NO ONE IS FOOLED! When your cast's mannerisms and body language say they're more likely to be there for their ten year than their diploma it destroys the mood juuuuuust a scooch.
The plot is, as I said, basic: five high schoolers run out of gas on their way to a concert, try to get help at a dilapidated farm, slaughter ensues. This is where the movie REALLY runs into problems; first of all if anyone was trash talking me in my own car their asses are officially walking home. The next is that the kids frequently engage in the predictably stupid behavior, the kind that no sane person is going to do. For example: after wandering through a creepy farm in search of your missing friend you simply DO NOT stick your hand in a combine and taunt the person on the other end of the room to turn it on, whether you think it's your friends or not. You just.. don't. You'd be too rattled over the locale/your missing friend/no cell service. And if you're at all like I am, you think about shit like short circuits and malice; hands are kept firmly away from spinning blades of blood-spewing death, thanks.
The next problem is the killer. He makes no sense at all; he's got a BAD case of Vorhees syndrome, but at least Jason's come back from the dead enough times to pull off the getting up after being stabbed/smacked/danced with/milked/whatever. Farmer Brown (played by Al Randall the writer, director and producer) just looks like Samara's hill-billy cousin who wears his hair in his face to hide his jacked up teeth. Why is he unkillable? Is he a ghost? If so, how did he die? Is he just a crazed weirdo, lashing out over the murder of his family when he was a child? If so, then how the fuck does he keep getting back up?! As a slasher killer goes, he's not really doing much for me. His look was pretty good, especially the wellington boots; some kind of cohesive back story would be really helpful. I know that the slasher genre as a whole is pretty incomprehensible, especially when you start to add in the various sequels, etc, but there's no need to fuck up your own story straight out of the gate.
Locale was awesome; according to the imdb.com page the creepy farm was found pretty much as is and no set dressing was done to it. If so then I hope they had the police on speed dial, because that is definitely a place that's got some hidden bodies that need to be unearthed, now. The rotting old farm house was really good, and the weird lighting that apparently comes with the property was a great touch.
The cast was pretty tolerable over all; the character of Justine, played by Lindsay Dell was frequently annoying; she screamed a lot and her scream is shrill. At first I found her totally unsympathetic, but then I remembered some of the shrill noises I made as a teenaged girl, and realized she was a bit truer to the source material than I was initially giving credit for. She was often unlikeable, but I think that added to her realism. All of these characters needed to be developed a lot more, but they at least felt like the shades of actual people instead of broad archetypes. I really liked Brian Austin, Jr, who played Zach. He was also frequently obnoxious, but again, most people had a friend like him in high school. He's also got really good comedic timing, and I could see him branching into comedy pretty easily, especially with a lot of the hamming it up he did in the blooper reel.
Taylor was our final girl character, played very competently by Jenna Scott, a very pretty girl. In researching for this though, I think I found every filthy old man who sits in his basement and touches himself to little girls; she was underaged when she played this role, but that sure didn't stop total strangers on the internet from talking about what they'd like to do to her backside. Seriously, you guys, you're freaking everyone out, please stop lusting after illegal tail! Take a shower, make a friend, get off the internet; you're creeping out the porn bots!
The other two cast members were Drew (played by Ryan Hulshaf), a kid who takes WAY more abuse than he should have, and Eric Phillion as Josh, Taylor's potential love interest. Both played their parts very well; they were alternately relatable and giant pigs, as most boys that age tend to be. Neither was just one noted, however, and that was addressed in the movie, which I liked.
On occasion the movie actually broke out of the usual tired movie cliches: at one point it looks like two characters are seriously contemplating fucking on this nasty mattress in the middle of one of the rooms. Just as I'm thinking that if you're that stupid you deserve death via pointy implement, the girl snorts, pulls her shirt down, and essentially says "Did you really think we were going to have sex here in Creepsville?" Her boyfriend gapes at her and then gets a bit pouty, a very nice touch I thought. I'd rather have a touch of humor over another wooden, completely out of place sex scene.
I wanted to post more pictures, but well, other than the dvd case I couldn't really find any. If you're curious then head over to hulu.com. Over all I don't recommend this, but I am curious to see what else this group puts out, because I think with the right idea and effort they could make something interesting.