Saturday, November 24, 2018

The Farm Serves its Steak Cold: A Film Review

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*full disclosure: Red Hound Films is an advertiser on this site.

Director/writer: Hans Stjernswärd.

Cast: Nora Yessayan, Alec Gaylord, Ken Volok and Kelly Mis.

Another day; another cannibal film. This latest horror release, titled The Farm, is from director and writer Hans Stjernsward. Recently released on Digital platforms via Red House Films (Nov. 18th), this indie horror title focuses on one couple and one troubling meat farm. Unfortunately for Nora (Nora Yessayan) and Alec (Alec Gaylord), this is a human meat farm. Influenced by Tobe Hooper's anti-animal cruelty film The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), this latest interpretation juxtaposes humans with animals. The anti-meat murder message slowly winds its way into the narrative as the main characters struggle to escape their caged existence. Very surreal, The Farm is dialogue-light through Act II; the result is a head-scratcher. Overall, The Farm will not satisfy the appetite of most horror fans.

The Farm is another horror film influenced by Tobe Hooper's earlier work, on the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. This is the second film in as many months that has borrowed from this stronger title, with the other being What the Waters Left Behind (2018). This time around, Stjernsward's message on meat is murder is a bit stronger. All of the villains wear the masks of animals. Because, humans are killers, okay? Though, trying to guilt viewers over their meal choices seems like a strange decision. Meanwhile, the many human characters are slowly being turned into bologna. But, this processed meat might have a bit too much bone or tooth for your liking. This time, the characters are not being turned into meat pies or sausages, like the 1974 film. Instead, the meat is sure to end up at a catered wedding, or even at Jesus' Last Supper. It is hard not to see the earlier influences within The Farm.

This is also a plot-light outing. Simply, Alec and Nora are on a road trip. They stop off at a scummy motel for a bit of rest. Meanwhile, the motel owner is setting up his kidnapping. Not much later, this unaware twosome are shipped off to a remote ranch. Here, they are either milked or kept alive for future consumption. The middle portion switches from the focus on the protagonists to the antagonists. However, most of the villains are mute, so this is a strange, quiet shift. Not much later, Alec escapes and frees Nora. But, a desert hampers their exit.

The Farm is very surreal film. The blatant anti-meat message drains from any entertainment factor. Close-up shots of frying bacon or burgers is an obvious hint at the film's meta-message. Meanwhile, there is a strange interaction with a stranded motorist, followed by a very slow diner scene. Some of the scenes come across as filler, to justify the feature film's runtime. Yet, the later parts offer more strangeness as villains stare at villains and body parts are moved across the ranch. More dialogue could have helped humanize the villains. But, animals don't talk do they?

If you are a carnivore or an omnivore, then you might want to skip this dish. The anti-meat message starts slowly, but builds up speed as characters are disassembled for future eating. Alec and Nora are meat-eaters and this maybe justifies their torture? Their time in cages adds to the horror element, while showing the viewer how poorly animals are treated. In an artificial insemination scene, one woman is treated like a procreating bovine. And, babies face an equally cruel treatment, in order to make some sort of human veal. Many of the scenes are very bizarre as mentioned above. But, one thing is certain, animals are treated badly and you should feel ashamed for your meat-eating!

The Farm is not a very entertaining horror film. The film's central message is fairly obvious. But, the reason for the director's activism put to film is not. Surely, politics is better offered more subtly, than with a hammer to the noggin, or a nailgun to the forehead. As it is, The Farm is a bit of drain on the system and will leave many in a dower mood. Perhaps more exciting horror fare would be a better choice as The Farm promises to put you in a cage for seventy odd minutes.

Overall: 6.25 out of 10.

More details on the film are available at the Red Hound Films' website: The Farm at Red Hound Films

A more subtle animal cruelty message, in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre:

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