Thursday, November 9, 2006

Farmlands (2006)

Farmlands is a no-budget indie movie from Vomit Films about a group of friends who go up against a misogynist killer. According to director Richie Vomit, it was filmed on a budget of about $40. It manages to be both hilarious and horrifying, and held my attention for its entire 72 minute length.

A group a twenty-somethings live in the middle of nowhere, in the farmlands of Iowa. To pass the time they mostly hang out, drink and talk the days away. One night, they all go hang out at their friend's house. She has also invited her co-worker, Johnny, a mysterious fella no one knows much about. He is muscled and tattooed and soon the girls are drooling over him. Chastity, the "loudmouth whore" of the group, gets turned down by Johnny when she suggests they wander off for some "alone time." Instead, Johnny's got his eye on Margie, the innocent-looking blond of the group.

We meet the rest of the group at the party too: the very obnoxious and loud fat boy (who reminded me of Franklin from TCM, not as whiny but just as annoying), the skinny, funny guy, the guy who is secretly in love with Margie, and the girls - Chastity as well as the host of the party and their friend (played by Heidi Vomit).

The day after the party, Margie and Johnny have their date, only to be rudely interrupted by the jealous Chastity, fat and skinny boy and Heidi's character. Margie and Johnny ditch them and retreat back to Johnny's house. Soon Margie's friends realize she has gone missing and they start searching for her but find much more than they bargained for.

Farmlands is gloriously low-budget, proving you don't have to spend much ($40!! $40!!) to make a good horror movie. From the opening credits with images of rotting corpses and the Iowa landscape, it had me hooked.

The characters were all pretty well established, but then again, the filmmakers used mainly friends so I'm sure their personalities were shining through. I could have used a bit more explanation to what was going on with Johnny's brother (?), who killed and then wore the deceased woman's breasts. He was definitely disturbing. The characters themselves did get to be annoying at times, especially the Franklin look-alike, but hey, it gave me all the more pleasure to watch him die!

The camera work, especially for an indie, was all up to par. There is continuity to all the shots, which I am a big stickler for. The film itself is very grainy and the camera's lens appears scratched, but this did not detract from my viewing pleasure. I loved the shots of the desolate locations - dirt back roads, isolated farmhouses and barns.

The comedic element of the movie was never over the top, but used realistically. The comedic element usually came from the colorful group of characters cracking jokes. It felt very realistic, like friends you have...which made it all the more horrifying when everyone started to die.

I did not like: the long, drawn-out party scenes, the porno that the kids were occasionally watching which hurt the pacing of the story (and its insertion made no sense), the sudden appearance of Johnny's homicidal "family" with no explanation given (I don't need a whole back story, but give me a little introduction as to who they are), the slow pacing in the middle of the story, the overlaid dialogue in which you couldn't hear what anyone was saying and various other caveats common to indie flicks.

Overall, though, I did enjoy it. The surprise ending caught me off-guard and it was a big "Oooooooh" moment for me (not that kind of moment, you sickos!). Indie filmmakers should watch this film to see what can be done on a $40 dollar budget - there's a lot to learn from the lovely people at Vomit Films. I can't wait to see what they'll do next!

Check them out on Myspace, Vomit Films or Farmlands, and tell them Fatally Yours sent you!

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