Starring: Leisha Hailey, Gale Harold, Chelcie Ross
Another movie in the After Dark series. Emily (Leisha Hailey) suffers a miscarriage and is told that she’ll never have children again. Emily and her husband Nate (Gale Harold) decide to move to an ancestral home to make a fresh start and put the past behind them. Emily begins to see things and she puts it down to feelings from her recent tragedy. A skull is discovered in the house’s drainage system and this triggers off a series of strange occurrences that only Emily seems to witness. After doing some research, she discovers what the Harold males have done to their women over the years and Emily fears that she will become the next victim. With Emily discovering that she’s pregnant again, despite being told she can no longer have children, is the ghostly manifestation and the change in her husband real or part of her imagination?
This movie reminded me of good ghost stories from the Victorian age, from authors such as M R James, in that you’re not sure if the ghosts are in Emily’s imagination or not.
I was also reminded of Hammer horror films. There’s an earthy eroticism in the movie, sometimes overt and sometimes not. The movie begins with Emily examining herself in the mirror, naked, and over the course of the movie, we see her in a variety of very revealing dresses. With the movie being called Fertile Ground and the main subject matter being about the loss of a pregnancy and the beginning of another pregnancy, Freud would have had a field day with this movie.
Gierasch once again proves that you can make a stylish movie without big names and a big budget. The direction is spot on and creates the right amount of dread when the screenplay calls for it. The performances are, on the whole, good. Gale Harold did not have the easiest of roles as it appears that he begins changing character mid-story. Because there is a mystery behind it (is he changing for real or is it Emily’s psychosis?) the performance occasionally comes across as confused.
The main problem with the movie is pacing. It’s a common problem in more thoughtful low budget horrors. If the Director was just concerned with throwing blood at the screen in a cheesy slasher, then the editing would have been easier but the importance in Fertile Ground is the characters. Unfortunately, I found the 92 minutes running time felt much longer.
What’s good about
is the ambiguity. The final scene appears to answer the viewers’ questions but I felt that there was more than one answer to what had happened. Fertile Ground is worth a look but I didn’t find it particularly scary.
6 out of 10 (Wayfarer)
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