A young boy goes to live with his grandparents while his mother and father fight to save their failing marriage, and makes a horrifying discovery in the cornfield behind their house during the Manson Family trials. Warned by his grandmother to stay away from the fields, young Steven nevertheless strays into the stalks and sees something he will never forget. Meanwhile, as the nightly newscasts offer all the lurid details of the Manson murders, something begins to stir in the corn field. By the time the family dogs disappear and the threat becomes real, it's already too late to run, and Steven must face his greatest fear head on.
The body in the woods had more forward motion than the movie.
The Fields is one of those independents that engages and almost enamors you at the beginning. You suffer through Tara Reid giving a performance about as impressive as one of the corn stalks in the titular fields because you know Cloris Leachman is going to appear shortly and make it all better. And she does, for a while. Her brash, obnoxious, yet troubled and anxious grandmother character has depth and subtlety that's well worth seeing.
But as time goes by you start to get the uneasy feeling that the writer had no real sense of where they were taking the story. By the end of the first hour you're pretty certain that the film is going to continue turning in aimless circles and then just fizzle out... but by then you figure you've already invested an hour, you might as well see it through to the end just to see if you were right...
Half an hour later you look at the fizzled out remnants and say to yourself "yep, I was right".
It's easy to see what The Fields was aiming for - a slow burn, southern Gothic drama with horror undertones - and most of the components are solid. The direction and cinematography is nice, the acting (Reid excepted) is outstanding (even from the kid), and the score is fittingly creepy. However, as with all things the strength of the whole is dependent on the weakest link and in this case the weak link is the screenplay, and it pulls the rest of an otherwise good movie down into oblivion with its meandering trajectory.
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