Curious, strange, bold… Ben Wheatley’s ‘A Field in England’ is a unique viewing experience that gradually lures you in to its hypnotic grasp.
It’s about a group of deserters fleeing from a battle during the English Civil War who become captured by a mad alchemist and forced to aid him in his search for buried treasure that’s supposedly in the nearby field…
Firstly, the film is visually arresting. The crisp black-and-white photography instantly catapults you back through the ages, then the sound design does an excellent job of convincing you these characters are on the periphery of a large-scale conflict, all in all successfully disguising the low budget.
The dialogue is excellent throughout, the cinematography is incredible (it’s award-worthy, honestly), and the mood is mysterious as the story soon makes you question whether magic is indeed real or imagined as events spiral out of control and everyone becomes unhinged and unpredictable.
Then we enter the final half hour which is an extraordinary experience, with a psychedelic sequence combining impressive camera work, editing, and sound to create unforgettable images, before the narrative concludes with a remarkable character transformation and bursts of brutal violence.
Overall, ‘A Field in England’ leaves much unsaid. It gives us a period setting, some context, and then some philosophical discussion to help guide our way through its story, but it doesn’t reveal too much, hinting at more subtle ideas rather than attacking them head on. There are many bizarre moments that leave a strong impression (courtesy of some magic mushrooms and off-screen screaming), but, ultimately, we’re left with a positive one. This is an experimental slice of historical horror that finds its director squarely in his wheelhouse.
Score – 8/10