Title: The Honor Farm (Fantasia 2017 review)

Also known as:

Year: 2017

Genre: Mystery / Thriller

Language: English

Runtime: 74 min

Director: Karen Skloss

Writer: Karen Skloss, Jay Tonne Jr., Jasmine Skloss Harrison

IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4022758/

When things don't go as planned at prom for Lucy, she and her friend decide to join a group of people that are going out to party at the old abandoned prison - the Honor Farm. Packed with psychedelic drugs they get a night they will never forget.

Our thoughts:
One of the best things about the wonderful Fantasia International Film Festival is that you're never sure what you will get. Whether you sit down to watch horror, comedy, action or any other genre, I can guarantee that you won't get "just another" of that genre. "The Honor Farm" presents itself as a trippy horror movie akin to what you're used to (kids go out to party at an abandoned place), but its dramatic and mysterious sides are the most prevalent parts of it. Yes, you'll get a few tropes, but they never unfold in the ways you would expect them to and it would even be a stretch to class this as horror (a thriller is probably more like it). Thankfully!

The opening of "The Honor Farm" throws us into a dream filled with surrealism and romanticism, and almost jokingly twists it back into reality where Lucy, our leading lady, is waking up in the dentist's chair. She hurries back home to prepare for the big night - prom. Excited to finally take the next step in the relationship with her boyfriend, she prepares for a night of passion, but unfortunately the night doesn't go as planned. Lucy and her friend leave prom and end up joining a group that promises fun, mystery and drugs. They're heading to the abandoned prison, known as the Honor Farm, where they plan to get high off of psychedelic mushrooms. Slowly Lucy's dream is coming back to reality, but how the hell do you know what's actually happening when you're tripping on shrooms?

As expected, a movie about tripping is a movie that will make reality hard to decipher. Yet, this is not a movie that just wants to be weird for the sake of it, as it uses the drugs as a vehicle for Lucy's coming-of-age prom night. It'd be very easy to just make this weird, but there is always something grounded about the movie, which makes everything a lot more effective. We actually don't know what's real and what isn't, and perhaps it doesn't matter? The goal of "The Honor Farm" is not a massacre, and it doesn't contain one, because this is not actually a horror movie. It's about a big night in Lucy's life that doesn't end up as expected, and goes on a roller coaster because of it.

There is a lot that I enjoy about "The Honor Farm". It's refreshing to see a movie that is so similar to a typical horror movie in location, characters, situations and atmosphere, yet it doesn't ever really go "there". Once it does, the outcome is not what you're used to. I leave "The Honor Farm" with a very positive feeling, but that's not to say that there are some issues. My main issue is pretty simple: it's not that well paced. It's either going too slow or too fast at certain times. The first half of the movie feels like it's way too long, while in the second half you sometimes don't even get to feel confused during the tripping and mysteries because it'll move on to the next thing. Despite being a movie that feels fresh it often felt like it dragged because of it.

Director Karen Skloss has a few things under her name, but she's someone I had not heard of previously. Considering her unique take on this kind of movie and the professional presentation the team achieved, she's a director I will keep an eye out for. Its shortcomings are miniscule when compared to what the movie does succeed with. It puts a compelling drama in the shell of a bland horror movie, and no matter how that might sound to you it's a fresh take that I appreciate. Not only that, the movie manages to present some beautiful fantasy-like dream moments that show a vivid imagination (including one of my favorite little moments involving a donut). "The Honor Farm" is recommended to those that wants something familiar with a new outcome.

Positive things:
- Creative and fun.
- Interesting mix of a drama within a horror presentation.
- Good acting keeps this fantastical drama mystery real.
Negative things:
- Some pacing issues.

Gore: 0.5/5
Nudity: 0/5
Story: 3/5
Effects: 3/5
Comedy: 1/5

We watched this movie thanks to:
Fantasia International Film Festival 2017

Reviewed by:



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