Studio: Blue Fox Entertainment
Director: Hans Stjernsward
Writer: Hans Stjernsward
Producer: Jaime Carbajal
Stars: Nora Yessayan, Alec Gaylord, Ken Volok, Rob Tisdale, Sandra Cruze
Masked cannibals capture a couple on a road trip and imprison them on a farm where humans are tortured like animals.
Hans Stjernsward’s “The Farm” has a problematic protagonist in Nora. On a long car trip back to Los Angeles with her beau Alec, Nora says the side of the road just won’t do. She insists on relieving herself at a rest stop.
Of course that’s a perfectly reasonable request and not at all unusual. Yet hitched to the selfish considerations defining Nora for the rest of the first act, it’s the first falling domino in an unfortunately unappealing personality.
The couple’s quirky journey through overlong exposition with little payoff has them next meeting an old woman stranded by a stalled car. Granted, the woman puts pushiness in play by twice asking Nora, “where’s the ring?” in regards to her relationship with Alec. But, with the short fuse of a disgruntled customer demanding to speak to a manager, Nora breaks out a terse “that’s none of your business” a touch early in their tug-o-war of escalating rudeness.
After additional odd encounters with a frosty waitress, diner weirdo, and skittish gas station attendant, the cavalcade of curious creeps continues when Nora and Alec meet the redneck landlord of a backwoods motel. Nora has no patience for the landlord’s small talk, giving him an unearned “go away already” that further curls the man’s contemptuous snarl. As if coarse conversations weren’t enough of an indicator, by this point, Nora’s body language of arms persistently folded in front of her sends another unmistakable signal about her standoffish stature.
Brusque though she may be, Nora still doesn’t deserve the fate that follows. She and Alec fall asleep in their cabin and wake up imprisoned on a cannibal farm run by masked maniacs. But given her sour demeanor, I can’t help but wonder why “The Farm” didn’t paint Nora with a more likable brush. Because I couldn’t be any more empathetically disconnected from her upcoming ordeal, which is the fault of the film for poorly presenting its thin characters.
“The Farm” makes no moves to hide its moral anywhere but in plain sight. Farmhands wear animal masks as they hogtie human prisoners, shock them with cattle prods, slit their stomachs to spill their guts, and keep victims confined in tight cages.
As obvious as its “meat is murder” message may be, “The Farm” doesn’t necessarily wag its finger with a heavy hand for chastising high protein diets. Graphic representations of animal cruelty by human proxy are kept to a minimum. No one yells anything along the lines of a “you carnivores are getting what you deserve!” monologue in anyone’s face either.
Yet that might be because aside from the landlord and gas station clerk, no one working on the farm says anything at all. The middle of the movie weirdly swings the spotlight away from Nora and Alec to follow the masked men and women as they wordlessly move body parts or supplies from one gruesome setup to the next. Broken up by brief moments of the landlord cryptically chirping about his catering business, it’s a largely silent stretch of laboriously repetitive farm operations that runs for nearly 30 minutes.
Roughly around the one-hour mark, slim side stories involving a rogue worker and an unnamed captive shrivel up completely. This frees “The Farm” to finally get back to Nora and Alec for the finale, which consists of a protracted hide-and-seek segment before a silly stinger and end credits. Underwhelming, uninteresting, unenergetic: take your pick of any adjective starting with “un” for an accurate description of the movie’s thoroughly hollow thrill factor.
It’s not worth the pun to point out how little meat exists on “The Farm’s” empty bones. The film poses as a provocative piece presumably meant to challenge perspectives on food processing. But it doesn’t have nearly enough weight for cursory commentary to come across as anything other than an excuse to wade in trashy scenes of nude victims being terrorized.
“The Farm’s” fright film façade merely rehashes milieus from countless countryside cannibal movies, ultimately becoming indistinguishable from similarly themed VOD clones. With unsympathetic heroes whose development stalls early and a vague villain quickly swallowed by bland background, there’s no justifiable reason to take a trip to “The Farm.” Unless you want to watch a naked woman scream through a ball gag while her breasts are milked by a machine. In which case, you might have bigger issues than poor taste in horror entertainment.
Review Score: 45