Monday, 6 June 2011



A faintly icky and uncomfortable horror movie from the After Dark stable, more or less on a par with the other three so far (Husk, Prowl and Seconds Apart); this is mostly a competent and occasionally scary little haunted house movie that treads no new ground but does the job efficiently enough. It's the newest from Adam Gierasch: substantially better than his frankly atrocious remake of Night Of The Demons but nowhere near as good as his first movie Autopsy, which I really enjoyed.

Following a miscarriage (which is shown in needless detail and could really have been omitted completely), Emily and Nate Weaver (Leisha Hailey, Gale Harold) relocate to the wilds of Iowa in Nate's family's old house. But it's not long before Emily starts seeing and hearing things: handprints on the windows, the cries of a baby, and while they might just be down to stress - despite medical assurances, she's discovered she's pregnant again - there might equally well be something from the house's colourful, blood-soaked history that's still there. The discovery of a human skull in the house's drains, the gradual transformation of Nate from loving husband to selfish brute, the revelations from a journal from 1851....

Fertile Ground is very, very ordinary and while it does rustle up some very creepy moments and effective jumps, there's little that we haven't seen before. And coming after the marvellous Insidious it really suffers by comparison. This really is Amityville all over again, with a very downbeat ending and some confusion as to which ghosts were doing the haunting (there appear to have been deaths, murders and suicides on a regular basis since it was built). I'm also a little uncomfortable about the inclusion of pregnancy and miscarriage: it places extra vulnerabilities on the already vulnerable heroine and puts an unborn child at risk of harm.

Barring the opening, entirely unnecessary sequence, the first half of the movie is pretty good and manages to rack up the suspense with one long tracking shot in particular following Emily around the house at night (the lack of music actually heightening the dread and expectation). But it does become a typical, uninteresting possession flick in the second half which sinks all the good work already done. A disappointment, unfortunately.


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