Eric’s Review: The Farm (2018)

The Farm 
★★1/2 out of ★★★★★
Directed by Hans Stjernsward

Scary DVDs! Woo!
Nora Yessayan in The Farn

The Farm is a hillbilly cannibal horror tale, and that should give you some clues about how this goes down.  This is a hard watch.

Here’s a movie that belongs in the hillbilly horror/road trip horror canon.  And that might be both a good and a bad thing. Like many films of this sub-genre, this is a tough watch for most audiences and is even a little rough for hardened horror fans.  If you’ve read our Bridge Too Far post, with our fear level analysis, I would put this movie as a 20.  It is a tried and true trope, the young couple taking a road trip who needs to find a place to rest, and they get directed to a series of cabins that’s about 20 minutes off the beaten path.  The acting of our two leads Nora Yessayan (Nora) and Alec Gaylord (Alec) is solid, as our sympathetic will-be victims.  Their pre-horror banter comes off naturally, but they stumble into the most time-honored trap tropes… the crazy in-bred housekeeper. Double down on the fact that the cabins they check into are old scout camp cabins, in a seriously dilapidated state, including a blood-stained mattress that the couple fails to notice.  The couple had gas, all they needed to do was switch drivers rather than stay in a skeevy off-the-beaten-path cabin-in-the-woods.

Needless to say, they get abducted by a big goon hiding under their bed.  (Genuinely creepy reveal) and they wake up caged in the middle of a farming commune, trapped with a number of fellow gullible travelers.  The men are cattle stock, and the women are the dairy stock.  Ewwww.  OK, up to this point, the premise holds strong.  The disappointing thing is that the film struggles to figure out its voice in the second act.  The cultists all (mostly all) wear plastic animal masks at all times… which makes little sense, particularly knowing how hard it is to see or breathe behind those things.  Why wear a mask, if you’re surrounded by like-minded cultists? It would make just doing day-to-day tasks even more of a chore.

These cultists have to be supernaturally perceptive to spot sneaking escapees while behind cattle masks… you’ve worn a plastic Halloween mask… you can’t see squat from behind those masks! On an aside, a hockey mask is designed to allow for good vision as goalies have to see a puck coming their way, so Jason’s mask totally makes sense. The animal referential flip is also too on-the-nose for my taste.  The animals turning on the humans.  Unnecessary for the most part.  Also, the cultists say nothing, with the exception of the in-bred innkeeper and one of his dim-witted henchmen.  So, I have issues with the villains in this movie.

The movie has some really gruesome shock scenes, some are critical to the story, but it had others which seem largely unnecessary, not advancing the plot or add in any depth to the characters than to indicate how nasty the villains are.  Without a context for why the farm is what it is, or how they fell sway to the odd innkeeper, it fails to connect other than to gross you out. Multiple attempts are made to escape, and many attempts are foiled.  I think the film would also have benefitted by truncating the second and third acts to a more streamlined escape plan.  The ending is a classic nihilistic brutal ending, but with an attempt to try an overtly artistic homage, but I think it felt tacked on after what we had just witnessed.

The live audience reception was tepid, and I felt bad for Stjernsward, who was in attendance, as most of the audience fled immediately after credits rolled.  If this would have been a focus group screening, they would have sent the director back in for edits.  If your test screening audience is a horror fan base, and they all flee your movie afterward, that’s a bad sign.  This movie had strong influences from Motel Hell, the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Hostel.  The movie’s sadistic edge gets muddled, however, by the goofy villains and it dilutes the power of the savagery a little.  Rather than stick to a straight torture porn film, like Hostel, or a horror satire, like Motel Hell, it splits the difference and ends up less weighty as a consequence.

It’s not a film without merits, as there is some authentically scary stuff, and the gore effects are BRUTAL.  It does succeed in my rule #1 which is that you have to care for the protagonists, but in the end, it was undone a bit by the oddly constructed escape sequence, and you don’t get to see how the escape plans really unfold.  I would have just headed for the hills. Also, how many “the car won’t start” tropes are you allowed in one film?  For those with the stomach for intense gore, you might do well with this film, as a mixed bag response from me might be completely different for you.

If you see this film, though, you probably won’t forget it anytime soon! (For better or worse) The Farm is not yet rated, my guess is that it would be in the running for an NC-17, if it did.  The Farm is having a limited theatrical release on November 16, and is available streaming on Vudu, FandangoNow, and Amazon Prime.

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  1. So do the characters succeed in the end?
    Because it looks like the trailer at one point is showing Nora being tortured multiple times and then her stomach being cut up. I want to know because this movie may never see the light of day in cinemas. And if it does, it’ll be in like two years. So I would really like to know.

    • SPOILER ALERT! For those of you who don’t want to know. DON’T READ FURTHER.

      OK… having gotten that out of the way. It is a bleak horror movie ending. There are multiple attempts to escape, and multiple “We’ve made it!” type of moments… but in the end, no. They fail. And, this is a movie about cannibalism. So yeah, not a happy ending. So, it follows in the steps of Night of the Living Dead, or the Mist… both of which were movies that I love, but have incredibly depressing endings. And it has the gumption to do a last-supper like diorama as a conclusion. Ambitious, and a bit pretentious. There is a scene that involves a bus, that if they stopped the movie right there, it would have been equally jolting, but more satisfying. The bus segment was an earned jump scare. There are things that are impressive in the movie. The concept is akin to Motel Hell, but not done for laughs. The primary actors are great in Act 1, but I think that once they fail to heed the creepy warnings, are victims of their own bad decisions as much as anything else. The gore effects are really brutal and mean. This is a candidate for an NC-17 rating, for the edit that I saw. If you like really gory violent movies… this satisfies that itch.

      • So, are they ran over by a bus? Or is it a dream sequence? I just really want to know what explicitly happens to Nora.

      • She gets roasted like a pig, with an apple stuffed in her mouth, and is served up as a feast for the farm residents.

      • Whoa! That is pretty shocking, albeit a bit ridiculous.
        In the trailer, there are two parts that caught my eye.
        One where I think Nora is in a contraption in the dark an another where she is obviously bring cut up.
        Too bad I can’t watch it anytime soon.

      • Yes, absolutely ridiculous. If you google images for The Farm 2018 Movie, you’ll find the image of the last supper with two women served upon a table, and a bunch of men in animal masks posing in the background. For all the effort in the convincing practical effects, the two women who got cooked look like they are just being posed with paint smeared on them. The still frames don’t do the scene any favors… as we all know what a roast tends to look like. (Not that) It’s very grindhouse, and it is swinging for the provacative fences. Artistic bravado meets bad taste.

        I don’t think Nora gets cut up… might be another victim. There are a number of guttings/eviscerations.

      • Hmm…sounds like the movie would have been much better if the protagonists were stronger, the antagonists had deeper intentions, a better sense of direction and a better ending.

        Also, when I was referring to Nora being cut up, I was referring to 1:18-1:20 in the trailer. That looks just like her shirt. The most intriguing part to me is 1:14-1:15 I’m trying to understand what’s going on there.

    • This movie was a rejection of Christianity and promotion of vegsnism.
      All the cannibals wore farm animal masks, the same animals that many Christians enjoy as part of their diet. The main couple enjoyed a meal of burgers with bacon and cheese. This foreshadowed what they would become.
      By showing a role reversal we have the promotion of veganism. The golden rule argument.
      By showing Christian iconography, it implied the animals were Christians. Put the two together and you have a decent horror flick.
      Have I ever thought what the animal that was killed for my meal? Not really. Will I think about it the next time I give thanks to The Creator for my food. You betcha.

  2. Can you please tell me when us little people will get the chance to watch this?!?! I’ve been waiting for several months and just “dying” to see it!!!! Thanks!

    • In all honesty, you probably won’t see this movie until 2020 because no studio had backed it up for a release date. The same thing happened with “The Green Inferno”. The beta trailer was shown off in early 2013 with no release date while the movie didn’t release until September 2015.

    • Hi Sheena, The Farm hasn’t found a distributor yet, so until that happens it’s still stuck in the festival circuit. At some point, someone like Amazon or Hulu will make an offer, and the film will probably hit the streaming services next year. The Ritual is a great example of how that plays out. That was a movie that went a full year on the festival circuit and came out the following year. I wish I could be more definitive, but I’ve been getting a few of these questions. We will definitely post when we hear about a release date!

      • Hi! Thanks for the article. My last name is Yessayan

      • My apologies! Additional apologies for getting to this so late. I have updated your information on the site.
        Though I have my criticisms for the movie (It sure is a tough one to stomach) I thought your performance was solid! (And said so in the review… even if I spelled your name wrong.)

        Congratulations on getting your wide streaming release. The Farm has been far and away the most viewed review in our blog, which has been stunning. More than A Quiet Place. More than Hereditary. More than Halloween! So, there does seem to be some underground buzz for your film.

        What’s up next for you? Do you have another film coming out next year?

        Thanks for dropping by, and again, apologies for the spelling error.

        Eric Li, managing Editor, The Scariest Things.

    • register with the russian social and torrent media site OK.RU, remember to find their translate button first of course, there is no fee. they have a gajillion international and classic movies as well as the crazy indie stuff.

  3. This movie was horrifying. So much darkness, I don’t feel the same after watching it.

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