The Farm Movie Review
Written by Stuart D. Monroe
Released by Red Hound Films
Written and directed by Hans Stjernswärd
2018, 80 minutes, Not Rated
Released on November 16th, 2018
Nora Yessayan as Nora
Alec Gaylord as Alec
Rob Tisdale as Andrew
Ken Volok as Landlord
If there’s one subgenre that never gets old in horror, it’s cannibals. The human fascination with people eating other people knows no bounds, so it’s always a safe bet. In the tradition of the giants of the genre like Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Motel Hell, Hans Stjernswärd gives you his latest outing, The Farm.
Nora (Nora Yessayan) and Alec (Alec Gaylord) are on a road trip. As they make their way through the sticks, they encounter unsettling local population and are clearly being watched. Before you can say, “Do you eat meat?”, the young couple find themselves caged at a deathly efficient farm where the workers all wear animal masks and unwary travelers are on the menu.
If that sounds like a bit of a thin synopsis (especially given my usual wordiness), it’s because The Farm is very thin on plot or clear logic. I’d say that it gets straight to the point, but that would be a lie. For nearly the first hour, Alec and Nora ignore all the warning signs that are screaming directly into their faces. That’s acceptable, as it’s pretty clear from the opening few minutes that you aren’t dealing with the next TCM. However, there’s negative chemistry between the two leads in what is a three-person show, as none of the killers speak except for the freaky Landlord (who is a bright spot in terms of performance and appearance). You know nothing of where they are going, who they are as people, or frankly why you should give a shit about them. By the time the nastiness commences (one act too late), you’ve lost the thread.
Still, The Farm isn’t all bad by any stretch. The score is quite solid, striking and alternately eerie and intense. Punches are not pulled when it comes to the violence. The SFX are practical and effectively delivered. What pulls you in, more than any other aspect, is the well-realized premise of a full-scale commercial farm dedicated to people as cattle. The inspiration of the aforementioned Motel Hell is all up in your face; this place is essentially Farmer Vincent’s on steroids. Every aspect of that enterprise is explored from butchery to husbandry.
Yes, I said animal husbandry. There is a scene of artificial insemination that will make your skin crawl. I don’t remember a time where a rape scene would have been a less creepy choice, but they managed to pull it off. I applaud that sort of gusto. Also, babies are treated very badly, and that also takes either big balls or poor taste. Either way you look at it, there’s style points handed out for stuff like that in the cannibal sub-genre. Hans Stjernswärd didn’t go soft.
Technically, The Farm is solid on most levels. It’s well-shot with a definitive sun-glare of brutality on it. The score complements the look wonderfully. Practical SFX keep it unapologetic. Unfortunately, it’s a mess on the writing/logic/motivation side. Lower budget cannibal action shouldn’t mean that we can’t get characters that have more than one dimension, and there’s more to tension building than just stretching it out.
Finally, the anti-meat message is about as subtle as an Acme brand piano to the skull. It didn’t bother me because I don’t get my feathers ruffled by people’s buried message in film. If that kind of thing bothers you, though, be prepared for some preaching.
Having said all that, is The Farm still worth chewing into? I say it is, but I’m a big fan of cannibals. Make of that what you will. Much like human veal, it’s an acquired taste.