Fertile Ground (2011)

After a horrific miscarriage, Emily (Leisha Hailey) and Nate Weaver (Gale Harold) move to an inherited house in the countryside, hoping to have a fresh new start. All is well until Emily begins to see other people in and around the house – people long dead. When she talks to local historian Mister Avery (Chelcie Ross), she discovers the house has had a history of mysterious deaths and disappearances, and slowly but surely, begins to wonder if history is about to repeat itself.

The plot above may sound a little light and unoriginal, but Fertile Ground is oddly captivating, slowly getting under your skin; intriguing you, surprising you and chilling you the more it goes on. It is a compelling piece of work, well crafted and acted throughout.

Fertile Ground is another of the After Dark Originals films, following the UK releases of Prowl and Husk, and is another welcome addition to this selection of films. Shot and played out like a slick TV movie, Fertile Ground is none-the-less very well put together, always keeping you on edge, even in the startlingly sunlight. You feel the claustrophobic, cabin fever madness Emily gradually tips towards, and some scenes are genuinely very tense and scary.

This film marks another release for prolific horror duo Adam Gierasch and Jace Anderson, who I have a love / hate relationship with. I absolutely loved Autopsy, but genuinely hated Night of the Demons. Luckily, Fertile Ground has rekindled my faith in their ability to surprise, impress and scare. Fertile Ground is very addictive, despite the occasional flaw.

Anderson and Gierasch choose to have slate cards throughout Fertile Ground, which break the piece into chapters, such as “Starting Over” and “Moving In”, but rather than being useful they feel patronizing and break the flow of the film. Perhaps these were made in order to release them as webisodes or some other interesting reason, but they only serve to irritate when viewed as one long feature.

The relationship between the couple is also horribly unoriginal, playing out the “absent husband, crazy wife” scenario overdone in the likes of Paranormal Activity and Insidious. There are reasons behind this, and compelling ones, but it would be nice to see a horror film where the husband ISN’T a nobhead.

Character wise, though, apart from the rapidly failing relationship between Emily and Nate, it is very well observed and starkly believable. Both Leisha Hailey and Gale Harold are excellent in their given roles, especially Harold, who seamlessly maneuvers from being a loving husband to a dismissive, aggressive bastard.

Credit has to go to Anderson and Gierasch for keeping the intrigue alive throughout Fertile Ground. With films such as Insidious and Paranormal Activity, you’re quick to realize what the mother is seeing is real, but throughout Fertile Ground you question whether Emily might actually just be completely insane, traumatized by the miscarriage and unable to deal with the stress. It keeps the film moving and it’s a nice change to the usual mid-way “yes, she isn’t nuts” reveal we often see in modern horror.

Anderson and Gierasch have proved themselves an interesting pair to watch. Like early M Night Shyamalan and Ang Lee, they have chosen a variety of different themes and styles in their work. Autopsy was a taut, original comedy-horror that was horrific and bloody, Night of the Demons was a crass and ridiculous homage remake and Fertile Ground is a slow-burning, almost entirely blood-less psychological horror. Despite my hatred for Night of the Demons, I am genuinely excited about their next project… whatever it may be.

Fertile Ground is a decent, scary, intriguing horror film, adding another winner to the After Dark Films canon. Adam Gierasch and Jace Anderson have been firmly placed back on my Christmas card list and restored faith in their ability to provide solid, entertaining, exciting horror. Flawed in some places and perhaps not worthy of a cinematic release, it is none-the-less a clever little psychological horror that impresses and scares.

Rating: ★★★★★★½☆☆☆

One Comment on “Fertile Ground”

  1. lycan says:

    nope- worst movie in the world. too many snotters for my taste and theres no way in hell i would title this shitheap a thriller OR even a horror after all those years i have spent watching real horrors/thrillers, what an insult. a deep lack of effects, acting, it didn’t have me on the grip of my seat and the sex scene?…pffft. i think this goes in the shitbarrel with wolf creek.

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