Review: The Fallow Field / Cert: 18 / Director: Leigh Dovey/ Screenplay: Leigh Dovey / Starring: Steve Garry, Michael Dacre, Angus Kennedy/ Release Date: March 11th
After struggling to find distribution (like so many indie horror films) for over three years, Monster Pictures have finally taken a punt on Leigh Dovey’s throwback to 1970s British rural horror, and good on them for doing so. With other recent releases like Scott Leberecht’s excellent Midnight Son, Monster Pictures are slowly building themselves as a force to be reckoned with as a distributor of quality indie horror.
When amnesiac Matt (Garry) wakes up in the middle of the wilderness with no recollection of the past seven days, he retraces his steps to a remote farmed owned by the brutal Calham (Dacre), a sadist who likes to abduct his victims and subject them to torture in the shed of his farm. Matt finds himself a victim to Calham’s twisted games – but things are not quite what they seem and there is more to Matt’s predicament than anyone could have known except Calham. Meanwhile, the fallow field where Calham’s buries his bodies yields a strange and terrible secret.
Billed as a cross between Wolf Creek and Memento, The Fallow Field also owes more than a little to British rural folk-horror films of the 1970s, such as The Wicker Man and Blood on Satan’s Claw. In this case the countryside that provides the setting The Fallow Field becomes more than just a backdrop to the story, but a character in itself. It’s this twist that makes The Fallow Field all the more memorable, taking it beyond the Switchblade Romance-type story it at first appears to be into something more mystical and M.R. James-like. This genre-bending could have been unconvincing but The Fallow Field benefits from strong direction by Leigh Dovey and good performances by Dacre and Garry (in what is essentially a two-hander) that root it in reality. Despite the rural setting, The Fallow Field is a claustrophobic piece of work and well served by cinematographer Nick Kindon who lends the surrounding countryside (and the farm itself) a real air of menace.
The Fallow Field was shot on a meagre budget but you wouldn’t really tell as Dovey contains his story within the farm and the surrounding countryside, and this all helps to keep the tension cranked up throughout. It isn’t perfect. The early scenes, before Matt arrives on the farm, have the feel of domestic TV drama, and it’s only once we get out into the countryside, with its sense of isolation, that The Fallow Field’s cinematic qualities take hold.
Capturing some of the bleak tones and threat of 1970s horror, and creating a slowly building sense of dread as well as some sudden shocks and visceral scenes, Dovey has made a strong debut with The Fallow Field and as a horror director he knows his chops. Himself a fan of the genre, he grew up watching late night BBC horror double bills and manages to invoke those in his first feature film. Having said that, one of the strengths of The Fallow Field is its sheer unpredictability: just when you think you have a handle on it, Dovey completely wrong-foots you and this makes The Fallow Field all the more compulsive viewing.
Extras: Commentary with Director Leigh Dovey and Producer Colin Arnold / Trailer/ Stills slideshow/ 'Making of' documentary