One of the most mesmerizing, scary, truly unsettling moments onscreen in 2013 occurs in Ben Wheatley’s A Field in England. Taking place during the English Civil War, it centers around a not-so-merry group of deserters — including O’Neill (Michael Smiley) and the alchemist Whitehead (Reece Shearsmith) — on a strange quest. The scene I refer to is summarized by reviewer Patrick Townsend like so:
The film uses this basis of a plot to create an atmosphere full of dread and uncertainty that is made with individual moments such as tableaus which are often used at the start of a scene, not as an introduction but to create a sense of unease. Another example is a scene in which O’Neill brings Whitehead into his tent and we then hear Whitehead’s horrifying screams (Shearsmith’s time in The League of Gentlemen serves him well here as he can pull off a really good scream). Then once the screaming stops, Whitehead leaves the tent, attached to a rope, in a very long slow motion shot that was, for me, one of the most unnerving shots I have seen in a very long time. The most amazing thing about this is that while many modern horrors try to use gore and jump shots to try to scare their audience, Wheatley achieves this great sense of unease simply showing somebody grinning and letting the audience use their imaginations to work out how he came to such a state.
It is no exaggeration to say it is quite unlike anything you’ve seen before. Bravo to Squeaky Wheel for presenting the film to Buffalo audiences at 7 p.m. on February 20. (I saw it at TIFF 2013.)
The Squeaky lineup also includes Maidentrip tonight (February 12), Jack Smith and the Destruction of Atlantis on February 26, Unknown Passage: The Dead Moon Story on March 26, and Tropicalia on April 30.