‘A FIELD IN ENGLAND‘ continues Ben Wheatley’s ”love of the Great British outdoors”, by making a film showing that indeed rural Britain isn’t what it seems to be (see also ‘Kill-List’ and ‘Sightseers’). Based during the English Civil War, this ‘headfuck’ of a film is more a Horror then a period piece you might expect from its promotional material. Causing arguments before its release due to its method of distribution (it was released simultaneously, in cinemas, Blu-Ray/DVD, PPV and on Film4) and if it was the correct thing to do (and more so is it the future method of distribution?), it does make it hard not to miss. And this is something which you do not want to miss.
I have not mensioned much on the plot (other than its time period), but this is because this film is all about ‘discovering’ it. As with its tagline of ”Take A Trip”, this is a trip which knowing very little about, you will get a better effect/most out of it, something which all ‘headfuck’ films need to have to work. To make this ‘headfuck’ Wheatly has employed some of the most enriching cinematography and imagery committed to film this year. Shot in black and white, the film has a real grimy and period feel. This also adds to its imagery (live-action Rorschach test are a highlight). And to see this done on a limited budget – Wheatley is indeed growing with confidence as a filmmaker. Wheatley also brings a sense of Anarchy to the film with how (and token Wheatley), satirical/black comedy humour occurs after a scene of extreme nature takes place. This is something I believe Wheatley is probably the best at what he does. He does have elements of other things like ”Witchfinder General”, and the editation with the overlapping images of horror are very Stanley Kurbrick. But the big plus is that even with the certain influences – this is indeed its own thing. There is also one of the most unsettling and creepiest scene I’ve seen this year, involving a man with a rope walking down the field, which the film takes place in, which will stay with you for the rest of the cinematic year.
On a whole the film is essentially God Vs. The Devil, and while discussion on religion is in here, it never seems to follow through with any real answers or questions posed to the audience from it (well on an initial watch anyway). Again it is a ‘headfuck’, but it’s not like many other films which fall into that category (ie: David Lynch), as I didn’t believe it to be as strange and as inventive for it to be in with the best.
Still this is the best (if yet unofficially) Horror film of the year. It’s largely very bold doing its own thing, and while it’s more a Wheatley pet project, restores faith in British cinema. They say ”Take A Trip” with its marketing, this indeed is this ”Trip”, and a ”Trip” which certainly be on many critics shortlists at the end of the year.