After another heated argument between his parents, Steven is sent to live with his grandparents, Gladys and Hiney, while his mother and father try to work out their problems. Gladys and Hiney love Steven and usually allow him to do what he wants while he stays at their home. The only rule they have: Never go into the corn fields. Shortly after carelessly wandering into the field, Steven finds out that there's something living in those fields and that something wants him.
Immediately after I finished watching "The 4th Dimension" I took to the interwebz to see if directors Tom Mattera and David Mazzoni had any future projects. Low and behold, I came to find out they had a genre film coming out that was called "The Fields" - with vague plot descriptions and an even more vague teaser, I patiently waited for it's release. Luckily "The Fields" happened to be picked up by Breaking Glass Pictures which allowed me to see it sooner rather than later. I think Tom and Dave hit the scene with a great debut film but they really knocked it out of the park with their Sophomore title.
"The Fields" takes place in the 70's and while most of the world has come to a stop in order to keep up with the trial of Charles Manson and his family; a young boy named Steven and his family have their own problems to worry about. After a heated argument that involved a gun being pulled, Steven is sent to live with his grandparents, Gladys and Hiney, out in an isolated farming community. With the three of them trying to maintain a relatively normal and happy home, there is something out in the fields that threatens their very lives.
As a second feature by the directing duo "The Fields" easily could have gone either way in comparison to their debut - it could have been terrible or it could have been great, and thankfully, it was the latter. It's an interesting movie as it's sort of a typical home invasion horror movie, but it is almost without the actual invasion part. Even though I wasn't alive in the 70's, after Manson and his cohorts were arrested and the details of their crimes were made public, it became a terrifying time for anybody. Obviously due to the grizzly nature of the murders and then the distrust of the nomadic hippy-types. It was also because of the idea of disrupting the sanctity of a person's home - it's the one place where you are suppose to be your safest. With the actual murders they committed and then releasing details that Manson's Family would break into random people's homes for practice; it created a lot of unease in domestic households.
It's something that carries over and into "The Fields" - it remains in the air and in the atmosphere of the movie. With Steven coming across a variety of shady, questionable people and his grandmother telling him that he should be more afraid of the living than the dead. It adds a bit of a mystery to the movie as well: Is Steven's imagination getting the better of him about the corn fields? Or is someone out there, stalking and terrorizing the family? As the movie progresses, the incidents increase and it feels as though this unseen and unknown terror is closing in on them creating a bit of claustrophobic tension.
To say "The Fields" is a slow burn is a gross understatement but the slow build up is done for a very specific reason, and the reason why the movie is as good as it is. The "invading terror" plot almost serves as a secondary plot to the family dynamic of Steven and his grandparents. Through, I'd say, about three-fourth's of the movie, we watch the bond that exists between grandparents and grandchild. Not just thanks to good directing, but also great writing and great acting, we believe the relationship that exists between Steven, Gladys and Hiney. It makes the movie feel more real and the horror the befalls upon them from this person or thing, that much more frightening.
It's something that I hope most viewers can appreciate in the movie but I already know for a fact too many won't, and will simply label the movie as "needing more action". But I digress, the family being the focal point for the movie is what made it a strong movie. Having the "home-invasion" plot slowly creep into the movie, and slowly switch places to become the main plot in the climax, made "The Fields" a much more satisfying viewing experience as well.
It's easy to think I'm being biased with "The Fields" because I liked "The 4th Dimension" but I'm actually not. For any filmmaker, making a follow up to a successful movie is a challenge and I think both Tom Mattera and David Mazzoni met it and will exceed most expectations with "The Fields". It's a movie where, you could say, the stars aligned: The movie came from a solid script, it was helmed by two competent directors and it had the perfect cast. It could have very easily become a typical "home-invasion" genre film but instead it brings enough family drama into the mix, that it allows the movie to feel like it has more substance. "The Fields" can be rewarding for viewers who are looking to get something more out of a movie than just cheap scares and rehashed material.