Steven is a young boy who's sent to live with his grandmother and grandfather in the country while his mother (Tara Reid) and father work through their marital troubles. Though his grandparents warn him to stay away from the corn stalks near their house, Steven can't help but be drawn into the fields. At the same time, news reports of the murderous Manson Family horrify the nation. Then, strange things start happening: noises come from the fields at night and the family dogs disappear. Gradually, the happenings turn more horrifying, and Steven soon finds himself in the midst of a real life nightmare.
Using the crimes and case of Charles Manson and his murderous family as a back drop, THE FIELDS presents a familiar, but somewhat unique take on a child confronting his or her fears> In the film, as the Manson crimes are a hot topic on both the airwaves and all over the country, young Steven, is sent to live with his grandparents, on their farm, after a heated argument between his struggling parents. On the way there, Steven happens to hear of the Manson crimes on the car radio, this of course sends fright into the boy, and from then on, the thoughts of Manson and company escaping, and coming after him, frighten him. When they arrive, both Hiney and Gladys welcome their grandson, however, Gladys is quick to lay down just one ground rule for Steven, and that is for him never to go into the massive cornfield at back. Of course being a kid, Steven soon does so anyway. While wandering in the corn field, to the boy's surprise, he comes across the dead body of a girl that was recently reported as missing. So shocked is Steven, that he barely utters a word of what he saw in the cornfield, other than that he had "seen a girl". After the incident, Steven is irked, yet it doesn't take is curiosity to get the best of him once again. He eventually heads back into the fields, only this time wandering further. What he discovers behind the fields is quite startling. He finds an old rundown part of the small town which he is now staying, and it appears to be silently inhabited by a group of squatting hippies that have been making a ruckus around town. After Steven is later ran off from his discovery, bad things begin occurring around him and his grandparents farm. Their dogs are missing, their windows broken, and it would only be the beginning, as soon Steven and his family would be face to face with what he happens to fear most.
The first thing that you should know about THE FIELDS is that it's not really a Horror film, not in the least sense even. Many who have seen this have already voiced that they felt that this film promised something different completely. In a way, this is true, as the film's trailer sets up the film in a very different way, in that it treats this as another supernatural thriller. It fashions the trailer in a way which suggests that the corn fields in the film have something haunted about them. While I do not wish to spoil any thing, I should say that THE FIELDS is not a case of ghosts, instead, it's more rooted in human fear. As mentioned above, the film uses the crimes of the Mansion family as a story element, and it is with this element, that the script centers it's evil. Here, screenwriter Harrison Smith takes fact, and infuses it with his own fiction. The film claims to be "based on actual facts", but in reality, it uses part of a true event as the catalyst for an original story. I must give the film credit, because this was and is, indeed a clever and intriguing setup, especially for me, someone who is a Manson case fanatic. There have been quite a few films and documentaries based on the Manson, case, but like 2009's LESLIE, MY NAME IS EVIL (released on DVD as MANSON, MY NAME IS EVIL), it is one of the very few based films to present a "what if" fantasy scenario. THE FIELDS itself presents the scenario of "what if the Manson Gang happened to stumble into rural Pennsylvania?" The story is interesting, and as a film, does well, however, the film itself does has more than a few flaws. In the film, there are some scenes that are presented that appear to be the setup of other elements in the story that never go anywhere, and by the film's end, are just loose ends. Like for instance, when Steven wanderers into the seemingly lost part of town, the finds what is a circus like atmosphere, a building with clowns painted on it, he goes in to the depths of the building only to be cased off by a guy dressed as a ringleader type. This scene, was great, it was moody, had tons of atmosphere, I was so sure, that things in the film were about to get a whole lot darker - I was wrong. Instead, this ringleader was just someone who came and went. It goes nowhere, and he is to never be seen again. This and several other things involving the plot just don't seen to fit. But besides this the rest of the story is good, but only lukewarm at best.
The acting in the film is decent by all. Newcomer, young Joshua Ormond is likable, as the film's lead, Steven, however he doesn't truly standout. All of the older cast hold their own, and includes the likes of Tara Reid and Cloris Leachman. And out of the cast, Leachman is the true gem. Leachman as "Gladys in THE FIELDS is all things crass, witty and wonderful. The Gladys character isn't scared to speak her mind, and when she does, Leachman makes her often hilarious.
Overall, I view THE FIELDS as a film and script that had a great idea going for it, one that still was able to create a decent, but multiple times flawed final effort. I feel that with it's clever idea, so much more could've been done, but unfortunately wasn't.
6/10 As for the film's score, I actually kind of liked it. The score is loud and orchestrated, adding both depth and atmosphere to the more intense scenes, which is exactly what the film called for.
IMPRESSION OF THE FILM
THE FIELDS is a film that looks good, is well put together and has unique plot elements, however, when projecting it's story on screen it unfortunately hits a few bumps in the road. F There are times which not a lot occurs in the film, and as I said, there are a few heavily apparent loose ends present, which was thr most important flaw for me - there are just too many that are started but never finished, and others not fully explained. It is still however worth seeing for Leachman's performance at least.