In a rural Pennsylvania town in 1969, young Steven (Joshua Ormond) goes to stay on his grandparents’ farm following a violent altercation between his warring parents. But soon after his arrival, a sinister presence lurking in the cornfields surrounding the farmhouse begins to terrorise the occupants. Could it really be the infamous Manson Family whose murderous exploits dominate the news and who Steven imagines are after him or is it something else althogether?
The Fields is one of most surprising suspense thrillers I have seen in ages. It’s not your usual home invasion horror or backwoods slasher, but an American Gothic-styled chiller that feels like it has come straight out the pages of a Stephen King novel, with hints of Ray Bradbury’s Midwest nightmare Something Wicked This Way Comes and Jack Hill’s cult 1964 black comedy Spider Baby.
Cloris Leachman – best known for her comic turns in Mel Brooks’ High Anxiety and Young Frankenstein – is just great as the potty-mouthed nan with a penchant for old horror movies; while young Ormond is a face to watch. His Steven is a lonely kid with a vivid imagination. Which brings us to the menace of the film? Is it real or something imagined? Well, nothing is clear-cut, and the film keep you on edge as you try to fathom what is (if anything) is in the cornfields. And that’s The Field’s big allure – it plays on the fears we all have as children, an age when even the most simple things can become bigger and scarier than they really are?