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VINE VOICEon June 13, 2012
The list of great things in this movie is substantial. Everything from the locations and music to camera angles and lighting is superb for a modest-budget film (or genre film, really). And the acting is top-notch. Cloris Leachman is amazing and it's no exaggeration to say that in a different kind of movie, an Oscar nomination for supporting actress would not be out of the question. The viewpoint of the film is largely that of 8-year-old Steven, played magnificently by Joshua Ormond.

So why did "The Fields" leave me feeling so disappointed?

It comes down to the story, which is a memoir of actual events in the life of scriptwriter Harrison Smith. And it just doesn't add up to that much. Don't get me wrong--I don't demand that every movie I see be "The Avengers." I like smaller, quieter movies that focus on relationships and character. But in a story that amounts to a modified version of the "home invasion" horror sub-genre, more must go on than an old couple and a kid being scared and running around. I almost wished the movie didn't have any horror or thriller elements at all since as a slice-of-life drama, it rose above its material.

Think of it this way: Suppose you got on a roller coaster, and the car chugs high up an incline to the top of the tracks--and then you go down at a leisurely pace with maybe a slight twist here and gentle turn there...but the view is amazing. That's the case with "The Fields." Everything about the scenery is well-done, but that is one tame ride.

Having said that: MORE LEACHMAN! Betty White gets all of the old lady parts. No fair--the 86-year-old Leachman can not only match White's comedic talents, but she clearly has superior dramatic chops (White's cameo in Lake Placidwas fun, but she played essentially the same person she always does--whereas Leachman is a revelation in "Fields").
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on May 21, 2012
In this age of Superheroes, glittery vampires and recycled, re-purposed story lines where acting and writing take a back seat to "who can come up with the coolest CGI," occasionally a real film sneaks in. The Fields is a throwback to when movies actually had substance, superb acting, writing, directing, cinematography, the whole magilla. I don't recall a suspense film being made in the past 5 years that drew mystery up from the screen like a smoking tendril from the end of a cigarette. This film does that and more. From the stunning visuals, to the use of imagery though positioning, The Fields is unique. The field, obviously a character in the film is in the present with a crossroads at the opening with a secret. To the east and west of that secret are two possibilities personified by those who occupy those locations. Surrounding it are the players - all who have beaten their own paths outside of the stalks that encase a young boy's imagination and curiosity about all of the people who surround him but reach beyond his youthful understanding. Then there's the setting, which to my recollection, has been untapped, the early 1970's coming out of the turmoil of the 1960's following the Manson family's rise to fame. Of particular note, the writing is...well, no words - it's that good. Dialogue, story, settings - just plain crafted as opposed to some replicated garbage that most Hollywood studios prepare for investors as opposed to the art of filmmaking. What stood out most to me though, was the characters. Not only were they robust, but their interactions were real. No shortcuts, no convenient props to push them along and force their communications/interactions. Each character held his/her ground and reacted the way you would expect them too, based on their personalities. Particularly Bonnie and Barry. There were times I wanted to shake the hell out of them and tell them to get their acts together and get to parenting! This along with Howard Ford's "The Dead" are my favorite films of 2012. YES - even over the Avengers and every other CGI manufactured story that has been adapted from previous work. Great job cast and crew of "The Fields!" Good to know there are still filmmakers out there that care about craft.
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on August 26, 2013
Being a horror/thriller writer myself I can honestly say this movie had the suspense it needed to be a great film. Horror films don't always have to be filled with nonsense gore. I read some of the other reviews and what I read made me realize people only enjoy horror films when people are being ripped apart into pieces. I guess we haven't gotten enough of real life violence. This film brings you slowly into the suspense, and then lays it on you thick. I have lived near cornfields like this before and believe me, these events were some of my fears growing up as a child. I only wish Tara Reid would have had a larger role but oh well.
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on March 7, 2012
Saw this film on the big screen and loved it because it was scary without being gory, and Cloris Leachman and the rest of the cast are outstanding. It is well done for a film with a small budget and the fact that it is based on true events is freaky and makes it that much better. A perfect summer thriller!
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on December 22, 2012
I was surprised how much I liked this movie. Cloris Leachman is wonderful as is all of the cast. I reject all of the reviews that seemed to dismiss her performance. This is a character driven thriller. I watched it three times in a row. The story in some ways is very simple, but the atmosphere and sense of place and time that it portrays is right on target. You feel like you are really with these people...just eavesdropping. And scarier than the cornfield is the visit to Leachman's sister and her family. I am ready to watch these wonderful characters again!
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on January 27, 2016
Not counting Cloris Leachman, who is hands-down one of the best elements of this film, the film itself isn't bad. In fact, it's kinda good. It takes place in the seventies, during the days of Charles Manson and his cult. The protagonist, a young boy visiting his grandparents for a spell as his parents work out their problems and interested in the Manson cases, is told from the beginning to stay out of the cornfield, but unable to not take a bite of this forbidden fruit he finds himself exploring its insides and makes a horrible discovery. Further disconcerting is when his grandfather takes him into town where the boy is approached by a strange young hippie woman who creeps him out by something she says to him. She seemed to be with a small group of hippies hanging around a van. Further disconcerting, and frightening, is a man that the young boy sees in places such as on the street and around his grandfolks' house. Is this mystery man merely a ghost, or even more horrifyingly, is he real?
Much of the tone of the film is one of tension: hearing voices in the cornfield, hearing and seeing people outside of the house at night, ominous shots of the cornfield, the mystery man, and the suspicious nature of the hippie strangers.
If for anything, the performance of Mel Brooks' seasoned muse Cloris Leachman is a great reason to watch the film. She brings life to her character through curmudgeonly crassness, deadpan sarcasm, and her signature dry wit.
I say give it a go for the good price here if you haven't seen it yet and could catch it for free on the internet first and like it. If not for free, there's a site called Cloudload where you can download 10 gigs of films and shows for $5 a month. They offer more gigabytes for more money. For instance, I have a $10 a month account and get fifty gigs. 80% more gigs for five more bucks is a great fricken deal! After all, I'm the type of person who cherishes her film collection and refuses to purchase anything on blu-ray or DVD that I've never seen.
My personal recommendation: I quite liked and enjoyed it, and I'm satisfied with this purchase.
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I love this movie. I wonder what happened to the kid who played in it because he is a natural. Cloris Leachman is the prize here though. Both revolting in some ways and heroic, she dominates the film. And man, does she have one weird set of relatives. I don't want to give anything away, but we have corn fields, weird and degenerate ridge-runners, abandoned carnivals, weird transients and a poor kid trying to make sense of it all with the help of some really rough around the edges grandparents and parents. There are Lovecraftian elements galore, but I'll let you find them. I just want to say that I enjoyed this immensely. I gave a copy as a gift to my burgeoning writer friend and he said that it creeped the hell out of him. Nuff said.
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on July 8, 2014
The fields is based upon a true story in pa. it's about how this small boy goes and lives with his grandparents because his parents are always fighting, and plus his grandparents tell him not to.go in the corn but you know kids this happened back in the 1973 in Easton pa. so and plus the good thing is cloris leachman plays in here this blu ray has special features just for the blu ray and it's from breaking glass pictures the same who did 6 degrees of hell.
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on September 2, 2012
The Fields is a perfect thrill-filled horror flick. There's no gore, no screaming soundtrack, and no naked coeds flashing big new implants at you in 3D - so if you're under say 30, you may not appreciate the style. I, personally, feel this was the scariest film I have seen since the original Chainsaw Massacre ruined countless nights of sleep all those years ago.

Corn fields - the fields they reference here - are some how creepy; always have been. Add to that filming when the corn is gone, and the six foot carcasses of stalk line up to create their own Halloween-worthy forest's imagination can roam into a frenzied Fearland at the mere thought of a crow taking flight.

That being said, the story goes...It's 1973, and young Steven's (Joshua Ormond) parents are having a few problems. His overseers are too busy suspecting and accusing to allow focus to fall on the youngin'. So, off to grandma's house he goes.

His father's parents' place. This quirky duo is a long-married tough sonovabitch sort. Gladys (Cloris Leachman) is eccentric and delightfully foul-mouthed, in that way many of us recall our own grand parents using the forbidden words as colorful adjectives. Hiney (Bev Appleton) is the sweet grandfather - he still has his post-deviling sparkle twinkling in those old eyes of his though.

Their humble farm rests against a corn field; the kind that, while off-putting, beckons for perusal. Naturally little Steven is drawn in like any horror tale's main character...especially when he is told he better not go in there or he'll end up, as his loving grandma likes to point out, black and bloated and dead.

Faster than you can say, "Godzilla has attacked Toyk..." the lad sneaks within.

At this point of the film, you are petrified. All they've done is play some mood-altering music, showed a dysfunctional family's secrets, and reminded you about the Manson trial presently in their headlines.

But, you are there with Steven. He's a curious, smart kid. Still he is a child. He sincerely ponders that this Manson chap could be out and about, taking their exit to get some fresh veggies and whatnots. Sure, Steven is in Pennsylvania, and Manson is behind bars in California - but Steven heard the phrase parole on the radio and that's enough to ignite his nightmares.

Manson aside, something's up, and Steven is tuned in to it. And you're watching all this from his perspective.

The Fields is brilliant. Screenwriter B. Harrison Smith wove a fine freckled fearfest here. Each of the characters is deeply built. Here, you won't find yourself yelling at the kuckudoo-for-brains characters for their stupid reactions; they are scared too - and they listen. You get the feeling the film makers crossed their T's and made sure people in this film were on the ball. From editing, location, clothes, set design - they didn't hand you an, "Oh come on!" moment once.

You genuinely winced and begged Steve to get the hell outta there, and when he visits his "odd" aunt, you skeeve through the whole section of frames. That's the secret of The Fields' success; continued simple empathetic manipulations of the celluloid canvas before you.

Joshua Ormond (Steven) is simply delightful. His face tells the story, and his ability to share fear is incredible; a lot was on this young actor's shoulders and he pulled off an Atlas-style showing. His parents Tara Reid and Faust Checho are spot on as young adults in a strained marriage. Johnson as Hiney is fabulous. And, let's be frank...I don't adore too many actor folks; one of my personal chickbabe idols, Cloris Leachman is one holding the Royal Flush at this high-stakes table of career-making hands. Leachman wields her "Gladys" like she's channeling some lower-middle-class grandma's skeleton-filled closet's soul. And, many of her lines make you bellow aloud towards the screen. Yet, her fear and care for the child are clear as a mosquito tableau in the finest Soviet amber (Watch her and I at The Pirate's of the Caribbean Red Carpet - she does a bit from High Anxiety).

Get this. From The Fields' first atmospheric frame you can just tell this quiet film is gonna scare the bejeesus out of you. The people behind the film have grand futures. And, Joshua Ormond will be walking some red shaded carpets soon; let's hope he has a good support system to avoid his own E! True Hollywood Story special.

Snack recommendation: Peppermint tea (to sooth the fear-tension-fueled bile building in your stomach), and a pack of Camels.
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on March 19, 2016
Production values, acting, locations were good. Just wish there was a story to go along with whatever they were using as a script. I don't mind slow movies, in fact I enjoy them. The slow interplay of a well written and complex storyline puts a smile on my face. But this? Slow for the sake of being slow or perhaps it was to cover up the fact they had no story to tell. Dunno. Watch it or not. You have been warned.
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