More nasty business in the barn, and yet another warning to city types not to set foot off concrete. This has an outstanding music score by John Mehrmann, some full-strength mad Ma Kettle energy from Barbara Kingsley as the folksy matriarch of a demented menage, and a quease-inducing, greenish widescreen look going for it – but it’s 106 long minutes of misery with very little suspense, and doesn’t really do anything particularly fresh. In this year’s FrightFest line-up, it’s a much stronger movie than the schlocky Butchers, but it still feels like a bad time most folks won’t be too enthusiastic about suffering though (the biggest downer in this field in recent years was The Farm, though).
Rylie (Malin Barr), a horticulturalist, and her boyfriend Sam (Sawyer Spielberg), a resting actor, venture into the backwoods to study the long-term effects of a crop disease on the local economy … and ignore all the usual omens, which brings them after a car breakdown to the homestead of Karen (Kingsley), a daffy eccentric who offers all sorts of homecooked delights – Sam has had a cholesterol scare, and is on a very strict diet but can’t control his cravings – while waffling about the help she’s called for, which we know won’t be coming, and trying to pass off bandaged, drooling lump Gunni (Jamie Bradley) as a member of the family who’s suffered an accident with agricultural machinery. The mid-section has some hallucinatory sequences, prompted by some lysergic grain rot, but then we’re into the same old chained-up-and-abused-and-lectured business with a side order of warmed-over Farmer Vincent’s fritters. And it’s a long, long haul of characters literally being spoonfed despair before the fade-out.
Someone needs to sign Mehrmann up quickly for a film worthy of his talents – his work here really is extraordinary. Directed by Devereux Milburn, who co-wrote with Dan Kennedy.