CONTAINS MINIMAL SPOILERS
If nothing else, this is a grown-up, serious horror film rather than the abominable teen fare we've been lumbered with of late (Stitches, Love Bite): a refreshing change, and it's a little sad that it doesn't have much else going for it beyond higher aspirations. Mysteriously given an 18 certificate when most of its "strong sadistic violence" is actually fairly mild and not dwelt upon, it's blessed with an interesting idea but in the end it doesn't come to life as fully and effectively as it really should. Which is a pity. It's billed on the DVD box as "Memento Meets Wolf Creek", which might be an interesting mixture, but I was reminded of The Holding more than anything else, which I have to admit I wasn't a huge fan of.
Serial amnesiac Matt keeps waking up somewhere in the Surrey countryside with no idea how he got there. Returning home to find himself summarily dumped by his wife and his mistress, and with the police asking where he's been for the last week, he tries retracing his steps and chances upon a farmhouse where the owner, Calham, suddenly attacks him. Why? Do they know each other? Who or what is the creature in the barn? And what's the secret of The Fallow Field, where the crops won't grow?
It's a film on a very low budget, with a drab look to it, and very dark in the night-time sequences, which does give it the look of a cheap horror video of decades gone by. You can almost feel the cold, damp mud, and that atmosphere goes nicely with the ambient non-musical score. But it's not really helped by both hero and villain being somewhat charmless and hard to care about, a problem when they're on screen together for most of the running time. The opening section of the film is pretty dull, to be honest, and it's made worse by a couple of iffy support performances (there are only eight characters in the whole film), but once we discover the big secret up at the farm it turns a lot darker and becomes much more interesting.
Once we find out that it isn't a film about a maniac killing random passers-by and burying them in an unused field, there's a welcome glimmer of depth to it. There's no humour; instead there's bleakness and misery. Which of course is not necessarily a bad thing, especially after the likes of Love Bite: better to have no humour in a horror movie than failed humour. If The Fallow Field doesn't work as a whole, it's not for want of trying to do something a little different and a little more ambitious, while still keeping the film on a small enough scale to be affordable. I wanted to like it but it's not a hugely satisfying film and while it's certainly not a failure, it's only a very modest success.