It is sadly hard to get to see Fallow Field and when you do you hope it gets the audience it deserves. Leigh Dovey's quintessential indie horror starts with a visually stunning introduction to a rural setting, that somehow combines the beauty of the countryside with impending menace. Matt Sadler (Stave Garry) regains consciousness in the middle of nowhere, clueless as to how he has got there. Yes we've all been there, but this has happened to Sadler with alarming regularity, producing nightmares and feelings of déjà vu. When he makes it home a weary cop (Angus Kennedy) think he's been on the lash while his wife assumes he's seeing someone else. He is, but in a nice twist, his disgruntled mistress decides she's had enough too. Diving straight into the story at commendable speed, Sadler, now ominously alone, sets out to discover where he's been and why - and soon wishes he hadn't. He finds himself at a remote farmhouse where he meets farmer Calham, played by Michael Dacre (Nuryan), a powerful man who exudes isolation and menace. Calham has kids' drawings on one wall and a collection of man sized meat hooks on the other plus a great deal of blood in his barn. Turn back Sadler! But of course he doesn't, and we, as desperate as him to find some answers, wouldn't want him to. Without wishing to give away too much of the plot, what follows is a cat and mouse game between Sadler and Calham, both men with a past, who form a deadly and dependant relationship. A shocking plot twist early on makes you realise this is no ordinary horror and the arrival of two other visitors to the farm (nicely drawn by Johnny Vivash and Natalie Overs) only adds to the mayhem. While Edwin Wright is convincing as a character you really wouldn't want to meet anywhere on a dark night. Calham and Sadler spark off each other brilliantly and one of the most seat-gripping parts of The Fallow Field comes not in not the bloodbath, escapes or chases but a scene where the two central characters talk head to head, playing with your sympathy and fear. It's a brave move by writer Dovey, who also directed the film, but one that pays off. Dacre inhabits the part of Calham as though he's been toiling the soil and quietly wreaking havoc in his spare time all his life. But Garry, as the moral centre of the story, also makes the part of Sadler his own, in a performance that matches Dacre's in its conviction. We ought to be seeing a lot more of all the actors in this film. The final scene, with a revelation that turns the story on its head, has to go to Dacre, who held our audience spellbound, even evoking a little sympathy for his warped, bloodthirsty and vengeful character. Throughout the film Nick Kindon's stunning camera-work weaves scenes of bleak but breathtaking countryside in a very English landscape, while the interiors have a claustrophobic malevolence that take you back to the house on the hill in Psycho and the motel in Identity. Kindon's crafted scenes of isolation and horror linger in your head long after the titles have finished. The Fallow Field is a strangely moral tale, that will confirm every city dwellers worst fears about the country. Violent, but never pointlessly so, its themes of nature, isolation, retribution, redemption and regeneration are reminiscent of many of the best supernatural horrors. It combines the best elements of The Cottage (without Jennifer Ellison's comic turn) with the intrigue of Momento and the cyclical doom of the more recent Triangle. A story that tells you, like The Vanishing, that sometimes when you' are desperate to delve into the past and find answers, you are better off not knowing. The Fallow Field for was produced and edited for Figment Productions by Colin Arnold, I suspect on a tight budget, but you'd never know it. The make up, production design, effects, music and sound are superb, combining to create a fantastical world you fear, but feel compelled to enter.
The Fallow Field is a film that easily outclasses big budget rivals. Catch it if you can.
Fiona Webster, national newspaper and magazine writer, editor and broadcaster