The Fields Blu-ray Review
Have you ever heard about an independent film and thought that it might be interesting (or at least reasonably entertaining) only to be completely depressed by how terrible it turns out to be? I’d like to tell you that this wouldn’t happen when and if you watch THE FIELDS, a new Breaking Glass Pictures release. I wish that I could… but I just can’t. Like so many independent films, THE FIELDS frequently spills over into the land of pretentiousness that swallows up many of these lower budget films. Trying so hard to make a good movie often results in a story that just feels disingenuous.
THE FIELDS is the story of a young boy named Steven (Joshua Ormond) just after the Manson family murders. In addition to the traumatic events occurring around him, he has to deal with one problem after another in his personal life. First, his parents are involved in a domestic dispute that ends with his father pointing a rifle in his mother’s face. Then, while staying with his father’s parents, Steven finds a dead body (though no one believes him) and then begins to be tortured by strange sounds and weird hippies in the night. [I’m gonna let that sink in… pause for effect.] That’s right. Weird hippies in the night. OOOOooooohhhh… Very scary things.
There are other strange things happening. First, Steven’s grandmother (played by the strangely hypnotic Cloris Leachman) is a different character who cusses frequently, smokes all the time, and generally says things that are just creepy. Case in point, mere minutes into the film, she stops Steven as he is running off to play and warns him to stay away from the cornfields. Stay away or he might get lost, and they wouldn’t find him until he’s dead… and black… and then she mumbles off screen.
Steven spends most of the movie with his paternal grandparents, which is good, because his mother is played by Tara Reid and she is just awful. Steven’s grandfather, called Hiney, is played by Bev Appleton (a longtime bit player) and he is genuinely fun to watch on screen for a good part of the film. As we progress we learn more about his family and find out more about Steven’s home issues. It all feels a bit contrived though. The script just isn’t strong enough to make up for the little things that are just too convenient to be authentic.
The whole movie plays like a bad soap opera, teasing us with the possibility of something interesting and then falling apart. It is hard not to lose interest quickly, but if you stick around for the last few minutes you… well, you just get more of the same. I think there is something here that almost could have been watchable. Maybe it was the fact that the movie was directed by two people jointly? Could that be why it doesn’t have a coherent voice? Or maybe it’s just a script that should never have been made into a film. Either way, this is an independent film that was probably made for a few people who live in the town where this supposedly occurred. Regardless, it wasn’t made for the rest of us.
Video: (1080p, 16:9 Widescreen) THE FIELDS video presentation is grainy but nicely presented on this low-budget blu-ray release. The colors are a bit muted for a high definition film.
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio) The audio is equally nicely presented, but nothing special on THE FIELDS Blu-ray.
Behind the Scenes: The Making of THE FIELDS (18:48) This is a pretty standard featurette but gives a really great glimpse into the process of putting together a low-budget film that is a special project in the hearts of these filmmakers, who obviously really loved THE FIELDS.
Real Stories & Faces Behind the Film (30:05) Fourteen quick looks into the people and places that inspired or were used in the film. These are pretty fun actually, from the opening interview with the young girl who provided the chickens and other farm animals used in the movie to an explanation of the sound effects. It is a nice look into independent filmmaking in general and THE FIELDS process.
Hey, No Funny Stuff (03:24) Some outtakes from behind the scenes of THE FIELDS. The quality is fairly poor and sometimes annoying, but it is clear that these folks had a lot of love for this project.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Cloris Leachman! (03:44) Some outtakes from a message recorded by Ms. Leachman for the premiere, and additional outtakes from the set of THE FIELDS.
Photo Gallery (05:00) THE FIELDS presents a slide show of production and behind the scenes photography. If you enjoyed THE FIELDS, you’ll enjoy this.
The Blu-ray also features the trailer (02:05) for the THE FIELDS, and additional Breaking Glass pictures.