A Field In England
Ben Wheatley is a director who is probably not known by many American movie fans. I myself only discovered him recently, when I watched his recent horror/suspense thriller ‘Kill List,’ which was one of my favorite indie films of the year and was highly praised. (See our ‘Must See Movies You’ve Never Seen feature on Kill List here). Wheatley followed this up with another highly praised Cannes feature, ‘Sightseers’ a dark, horror comedy that blew most audiences away. His next film, ‘A Field in England’ looks to be equally dark and twisted, but also very different to anything we’ve seen previously.
‘A Field in England’ revolves around a group of 17th Century soldiers during the English Civil War, who have deserted their duties. While roaming, they come across a strange Alchemist, played by Michael Smiley (returning to Wheatley’s side yet again – he was also in Kill List and Down Terrace), who convinces the men that they must help him find a treasure hidden within the field. However, after eating some strange mushrooms they find, their minds become warped and what follows is a mix of paranoia, mental breakdowns and in-fighting.
Wheatley’s films are notoriously twisted and suspenseful, with some things being left to interpretation, and ‘A Field in England’s’ trailer suggests that he plans to take that to another level. The introduction of the mushrooms gives him the freedom to do basically whatever he wants, as we will likely be seeing things from the perspective of these hopped up soldiers. If done poorly, this can come off as an ineffective gimmick, but if mastered by a smart director it can be an amazing ride. Based on Wheatley’s previous work, and the complexity through simplicity that he manages to evoke, I think he has a good chance with this one. All will certainly not be what it seems, I can assure you of that.
I’ve become a huge fan of Wheatley’s work, and I hope you all check some of it out. Here is a quick breakdown of his career to date:
Down Terrace (2009)
A dark crime comedy about a father and son who get out of prison and try to determine who put them there in the first place, alongside their crumbling crime family. A classic British comedy, in the vein of a lower budget and much darker, more macabre Coen Brothers film, this was a promising debut feature film.
Kill List (2011)
One of my favorite films of 2011, this brutal movie is not the dark comedy that Down Terrace was at all. It is a creepy, gritty film about two retired hit men who come out of semi retirement to take on a job from a creepy old guy. As the job goes on, in brutal fashion, we see our characters begin to crack, and a deeper mystery begin to reveal itself. The suspense, mystery and horror are fantastic, but where the film truly excels is in it’s brutal and realistic portrayal of the family breakdown that is taking place. At times, the film is almost un-watchable, and I mean that as the highest compliment.
A huge hit at Cannes, and since, ‘Sightseers’ is another dark comedy from Wheatley, which starts as a semi romantic comedy, camping trip film and turns into something much different. As our characters Chris and Tina journey through their camping trip, they encounter the worst that the British countryside has to offer, and things take a dark turn. I will say no more. See it for yourself!
Look out for ‘A Field in England’ which will hit Britain in July, and hopefully come our way soon after.
Here’s the trailer: