OVERLOOK Review: The Farm (2018)
This is a movie that I feel will tear a lot of the horror community in half upon viewing. On one hand, it’s an incredibly well-crafted film in all its cinematography and sound design that has a very nasty premise that will be relished by gorehounds and those who hunt down the most obscene films they can find. On the other hand, there is little to no dialogue in the film, no likable characters and it's extremely slow. There’s a lot of merit to this film, but up until maybe the twenty-minute mark it all seems like familiar territory that’s been poorly written. TEXAS CHAINSAW meets MOTEL HELL as all the tropes CABIN IN THE WOODS makes fun of are played out in the opening sequences.
Nora and Alec are on a road trip to their hometown and as they pass through the back roads of America they come across very peculiar and unsettling townspeople, each ruder and stranger than the last. They find a motel to stay in for the night and awaken to be caged up on a farm run by the owner of the motel and most try and escape the cult-like community.
The lead up to the Farm itself is very strange and dull. Both Nora and Alec don’t have a very great rapport as they both seem very uninterested in each other and their dialogue very monotone and bland. They keep happening upon different characters that just seem odd. A very rude older woman whose car is broken down that just trash talks them, a hillbilly store clerk with a creepy smile, a random guy staring into a blank TV that warns them to leave and the rudest waitress ever. Granted we’ve seen random characters like this in films like CABIN FEVER, but whereas those were fun interactions these seemed dull and pointless. Alec is also probably the dumbest character I’ve seen. They get to the motel that is seemingly abandoned, dark, with half eaten food on a table left there but he thinks it looks safe and fine because there’s a bunch of cars outside. Obviously, those cars couldn’t be there because the owners were murdered by the creepy slack-jawed guy you found huddled on the floor.
With those shortcomings in plot and character, the film picks up when we finally see the Farm. Funnily enough, we pretty much stop following the protagonists of the film and watch the day to day life of this basic cult. The middle of the film is very strange as it’s framed almost like an undercover documentary watching a cult. Each member of this community doesn’t speak and wears different animal masks as they cut people up and prepare them for meals. It plays like watching the meat packing process as it is shown in long shots following the meats as they are handed off from person to person on the Farm. The sound design in this sequence is pretty amazing as the shots correlate very well not with a musical score but with the sound effects of different tools and cages rattling to an eerie beat that elevates how unsettling the situation is. Hans Stjernsward is amazing at creating a horrific atmosphere. This entire sequence I had my jaw dropped to what I was seeing as he jumps scenes of gore or brutality sprinkled throughout the eerie build.
Of course, the final act is where we come back to our protagonists trying to escape the Farm which was a little underwhelming but culminates in one of the creepiest final shots in the movie that is pretty disturbing. While it’s a lot of familiar territory in the beginning and end, but the middle section I think feels like a whole other film as you discover what The Farm is and it’s purpose. The messed up thing is you care more to see what the antagonists are up to than the protagonists so in that regard I think certain aspects of the film paired with the brilliant constructions of uncomfortable scenes will give the film life and find its audience. Just don’t go looking for story or character. This film hinges on enjoying the premise and how far the creep factor can take the audience.