A FIELD IN ENGLAND Movie Review
Ben Wheatley wants you to “open up and let the devil in” with his latest feature film. A Field In England is amusingly sharp and frankly unconventional with antique tinged black and white visuals to compliment the surreal tone.
Set in mid 17th century during the English Civil War, an alchemist’s assistant named Whitehead (Reece Shearsmith) flees from his superior to find himself entangled with a hostile fugitive, a deserter and an idiot savant to embark on a journey to a near by alehouse. After stopping in a vast field, everyone except for Whitehead who’s fasting, feasts on psychotropic mushrooms to mind altering results. They meet Cutler (Michael Smiley), a sadistic Irishman and self-proclaimed conjurer, who manipulates them into hunting for buried treasure and threatens sorcery towards non-compliance. As the labored prisoners are taken hold by their psychedelic influence, schemes of mutiny are provoked by confusion and paranoia. Spiraling down into madness, we’re introduced to theories of an ill planet invasion and the conspiracy of the devil himself.
Amy Jump’s defiant dialogue packs the spirit of Monty Python in moments such as Whitehead examining his comrade for genital curses, “Am I bewitched?” and Wheatley’s dream induced approach to the story redefines interpretation. His rebellion of typical genre conventions are what has made his films so far thrilling to watch and he really seems to be in an experimental mood with this one.
To call A Field In England bizarre doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface, there’s an off-screen torture sequence in a tent that feels like it goes on for days and is one of the most unsettling scenes I’ve witnessed in a long time, there’s a stroboscopic hallucinating sequence that’s non-apologetically abrasive and hypnotic,, but most of all what can’t be denied is that this will all stick in your head long after this film is over.
The film hits select theaters and VOD on February, 7th.