Fields Of The Dead (2014)

Writer: Scott Coleman
Director: Daniel B. Iske

Fields Of The Dead (previously The Wretched (2008)) is a low budget horror movie which, despite the trailer and misleading summary, bears no resemblance to The Evil Dead (1981).

The story concerns a group of students who travel to an isolated old farm site for an agricultural research project. However the site used to be a sacred Native American burial ground on which a massacre took place. In response to the massacre the natives cursed the land.

Initially things go fine, but then they dig up an old artefact. That releases the ancient spirits which proceed to possess and murder the students.

It has potential and is surprisingly well made for a low budget film. Iske’s direction is competent and there are some nicely atmospheric moments. He also gets credit for not using lack of budget as an excuse for waving the camera all over the place.

Acting is good all round. I particularly liked Melanie Recker as Cheryl with her Mona Lisa smile, as well as Sarah Wald who is clearly having fun playing the spoilt brat Ashley as comic relief.

Where the film fails is the story telling. The pacing is dreadful – almost nothing happens for the first half hour. Things finally get going about 40 minutes in, which is far too late. It’s not as if there’s any atmosphere to keep the viewer’s interest before then – most of the screen time is taken up with the characters being jerks and talking about sex. Believable but not engaging.

The end credits suggest there was a cut scene involving a party at a bar. If so then, presuming this was at the start, the film would have been even more unbalanced had it been left in (as it presumably was in the 2008 incarnation).

Even when it does get going the story is badly told. The back story comes via two big infodumps, one a fireside story and the other via the diary they conveniently find. Through the latter we learn the true facts of what happened all those years ago, which is an interesting back story. However it’s never clear exactly how this relates to what’s going on now.

So overall Fields of the Dead is a surprisingly well made low budget film let down by a script that lacks clarity and pacing.