The Horror Honeys: Be More Afraid Of The Living, Than The Dead...

Be More Afraid Of The Living, Than The Dead...

A True Crime Honey Review

The best and worst part about being a film reviewer, especially a painfully honest one, is that I get asked to review a lot of films...I've sat through a lot of crappy filmmaking...and some good filmmaking...less of the latter sadly.

When I'm asked to review films I'm always initially skeptical, propositions on Twitter are always slightly sketchy.  As with my hometown, where everyone is a photographer or a model or a makeup artist; on Twitter everyone is a writer or a director or an actress...sometimes these things are true...sometimes they're just...not.

All that being said, I recently settled in for a (very rare) sober live tweet session of The Fields (2011) which is currently streaming on Netflix (could be a good sign, could be a bad sign).

First warning:  Tara Reid is in it.  But she's a forgettable, negligible character, with a meh absentee parent role to play and a wig that looks a little awkward on her little bean head.   Don't be scared off in the first few minutes.

I'm a big fan of period films...especially if they're done well.  I'm talking costuming, set dec, situational dialogue, colloquialisms, political commentary, the whole sha-bang.  The Fields has that in spades...something that both pleased and unnerved me...which was also good.

The Fields chronicles the story of a troubled family in Pennsylvania, with all kinds of ghosts and skeletons in their experienced by the youngest member of the family, Steven.  Being that the story is told from the point of view of our young protagonist, the confusing nature of the events of the film, the maelstrom of action, certain character dynamics and conversation traits, focal points of filming (that peanut butter...AUUGH)...these are the things that stay embedded in young minds.  It's always surprising to me what details children recall in periods of trauma, and how much they can push away and survive.
Don't go in the fucking field, Steven,

Personally, I'm not good with suspense in makes me edgy, which I suppose is the point...but it ends up ruining films for me because I get all twitchy and have to find something to do to take my mind off of the movie so I don't vomit all over myself.  Thankfully, live tweeting The Fields kept me in my seat, so I didn't miss anything, first time ever.  The Fields was FULL of suspense...toe curling, creepy, awkward, husband pinching, suspense...the good stuff.

Dumb scum-in-law
Cloris Leachman was the big draw for me in this film...although I'd never seen her in anything but the odd Mel Brooks role...and I can't lie that I didn't think of Madame Defarge during some of Gladys' beautifully written and delivered rants, especially the ones directed at Bonny (Tara Reid's party mommy)....dumb scum.
Nanny Gladys made the film for me...engaging, hardassed, tender, straight up, strong and honest.  Gladys' lines and interactions are some of the best in the film.

The film builds its action slowly, but the payoff is a confusing, heart-stopping sequence with unseen, and unnumbered assailants, attacking in the middle of the night.  I was genuinely afraid during those moments, and waiting for a shot I didn't want to see happen.

Nanny think's you're a ho, Bonny.
Now to the meat of it.  Why is this a True Crime Honey Review?  The time period is a big factor the wake of the Manson Murders, the media storm surrounding Manson and his followers had all of America on edge...hippies, vagrants, and transients were automatically suspicious figures...taking what they needed, sleeping where they wanted, and generally throwing the American Dream back in the face of the white picket fence genration.  Manson and his followers had given the hippie drug culture a dark face...a very dark and very public face.  This film is also based on a true story, which actually made this movie all the more terrifying, at least to me.

Bad things happening in abandoned amusement parks?  Goodbye childhood.
Home invasion, harassment, senseless violence...these things happen everyday all over the world, and usually by people who know their victims very well.  In The Fields, the hysteria surrounding the Manson trial is interjected into the story via TV and radio coverage, and the presence of a "group of transients" who, to a young boy who is scared of Charles Manson, is almost as bad as having the Manson Family itself living beyond the cornfields.  The crazy thing about media, and mass hysteria, is that it changes society.  The "Manson Murders" changed the perception of the peace loving, grass smoking, hippie generation into the poster children for illicit drug use, theft, murder, and senseless crime.  
I pretty much yelled this at the film the entire time.  Fucking hippies, man.

True Crime Honey says: When Nanny says "Stay out of the fucking corn, we won't find you, and when we do find you you'll be all black and swollen and gross..."  She's not fucking kidding.  Stay out of the fucking corn, Steven.