Why A Field In England Is A Psychedelic Nightmare Masterpiece | Pretty Reel

Over the past decade, the horror genre has seen a sea change from the trends that dominated it in the early years of the century. A new generation of writers has created some of the most original material in years, thanks to smarter storylines, stronger characters, and arguments stemming from real concerns. Aspects like supernatural and bloody violence and jump scares are still present, but this time around the films of Jennifer Kent (The Babadook, The Nightingale), Jordan Peele (Get Out, Us, Nope), Ari Aster (Hereditary, Midsommar), or Panos Cosmatos (Beyond The Black Rainbow, Mandy) present stronger narrative and visual compositions.

One of the trends that emerged in the early 2010s was the psychedelic-fueled horror movie. Enter The Void (2009) and Beyond The Black Rainbow (2010) are a few examples of how the genre began to resort to trippy visuals, hallucinatory sequences, and dark, psychological storylines. Alongside those films, A Field in England, the fourth feature by English filmmaker Ben Wheatley, is set in yes… you guessed it… a field in England.

After a group of English Civil War deserters find themselves trapped by an alchemist who tricks them into eating psychedelic mushrooms, madness ensues as the day becomes a hellish journey of paranoia. Using very simple tricks, Wheatley creates a masterpiece of modern horror, which deserves more attention because it stands out among its contemporaries for various reasons.

Sound design by Martin Pavey

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Martin Pavey’s fantastic sound design uses agonizing cries of pain with no visibility of what’s going on, the moans of a man trying to defecate, and the grunts of men while pulling a rope for nearly two full minutes. The film is filled with sonic disturbances which, through repetition, create cognitive dissonance and unease. The dialogue, the score, and the wind across the field all find themselves intertwined, almost blending together in moments when the tension builds to heighten the anxiety and dread the characters experience.

Editing a field in England

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Before the start of A Field in England, a warning of strong strobe effects preludes the film, and that’s no exaggeration. As the film progresses, you’d think the warning was in vain and then…there they are. Mirroring and folding images, repeating sequences, powerful strobe visuals and a black circular object blocking the sun with waves of darkness within. The editing can sometimes be blindingly daring.

Cinematography

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Laurie Rose’s beautifully-crafted (and surprisingly low-budget) black-and-white cinematography accentuates the weirdness. As the narrative becomes more and more incoherent (running alongside the psychedelics taking more and more effect on the characters), the monochrome works perfectly since it even creates dissonance with certain notions of what is preconceived as psychedelic. The typical brilliant colors and dynamic camera movements of trippy psychedelic cinema are nowhere to be found; you have to face the darkness head on, because the hallucinatory madness continues.

Ben Wheatley offers how plus why

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Why? Yeah, that’s the wrong question when approaching this movie; it is the one that will only bring frustration. Despite its very straightforward character arcs, A Field in England is never about why things happen, but how. The film is more concerned with developing its visual language than its storytelling. He doesn’t stop to explain things — once the journey begins it will go crescendo. Given the topic, consistency is understandably thrown out the window in favor of absurd confusion.

The ambiguity as to the direction the film is taking accentuates the bad times experienced by the characters. Sometimes it feels like this heartbreaking experience will never end, or maybe it’s been going on forever…

Tongue

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Although set in the 17th century, Amy Jump’s brilliant screenplay has no intention of setting up a historically accurate period film. A deft blend of vintage English with what appears to be modern indentation and accent creates within the layers of conceptual and visual chaos another unsettling aspect: the film is as gruesome as it is hilarious. Filled with comedic one-liners, awkward situations, and constant teasing between the protagonists, it also sets the film apart from the standardized idea of ​​what constitutes a horror film, and creates even more inconsistency and dissonance adding to the psychedelic experience.

Interpret a field in England

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The constant use of the phrase “let the devil in” and the ambiguous ending has given rise to a theory regarding the nature of the plot, as many believe the film is set in purgatory and the ordeals they endure are their way to paradise. This may not be very relevant when watching or enjoying A Field in England, but it adds another layer to the film’s savagery, and one that makes a lot of sense.

The constant mentions of God controlling his destiny, the characters’ morality (or lack thereof) towards duty (having all fled the battlefield), and the antagonist’s satanic undertones suggest there might be something else to the story. plot.

In the end, A Field in England turns out to be a rather unique film; from its cunning dialogue to its hallucinatory pacing, this film hasn’t been enjoyed as much as it probably should in this era of so-called high horror. While criticism of its narrative and consistency may be valid, the visual language and originality of its delivery stand out, making it a worthy entry into the psychedelic nightmare canon of cinematic history.

Why A Field In England Is A Psychedelic Nightmare Masterpiece | Pretty Reel