A young couple leave the city for the rural comfort of the husbands ancestral home in the country. Once there, his wife is plagued by horrifying visions and haunted by the ghosts inhabiting their isolated new home.
There are so many stories that are just retold in movieland these days. I suppose it’s always been that way, especially in the horror genre. Originality & horror are two words that (Very rarely) go together. And when we do get an original horror story, it’s immediately co-opted by every Tom, Dick & Harry that has a studio & a few thousand dollars to kick around. If there isn’t anything original to pilfer from then Hollywood just goes back into the vault & “Reboots” a classic from way back when. Then they have the nerve to tell us that they’re improving on the original…sad.
What does this have to do with “Fertile Ground” you might be asking? Pretty much everything because although there is nothing technically wrong with the film, it’s a story I’ve seen dozens of times over the years & I’m pretty sure you have as well. I especially hate it when a movie is well done, well acted & looks good but is simply a derivation of something I’ve seen a few months prior. “Fertile Ground” stars Gale Harold & Leisha Hailey as the The Weaver family, Nate & Emily. As the film opens, Emily is pregnant & trying to be careful because she has already gone through a miscarriage once. Nate is loving, attentive & just as anxious for the birth to be a smooth one. they even know that they’re having a girl! Everybody is happy…until Emily has another miscarriage & loses the baby.
Because of this, Nate & Emily decide to move to a house that just happens to be where Nate’s ancestors once lived. No reason is given as to why they decide to go there, They just do. Nate is a painter & I just sort of told myself that they moved there for the extra space he would have to paint. It sounded as good a reason as any given in the movie (Which would be none). Emily is told by her physician that she will be not able to have more children so she is wary & nervous over possibly getting pregnant again and then having another miscarriage. So she’s kind of on edge for the first 30 minutes or so of the movie. Even after they move into their new home. But, as movies like this go, Emily does some digging around while unpacking & among the items she finds is a picture of one of Nate’s relatives. One who lived in the home ages ago. He looks a lot like Nate too..except for the mustache & beard that is.
Once she finds these items (The picture especially), things just start getting weird in the house. She starts seeing people outside/inside of the house. A woman dressed in garb from the turn of the century pops up all over the place. And while making love to her husband, she looks up & sees his relative in the picture that she found on top of her getting his swerve on. She gasps, but then sees it’s good ole’ Nate laying down some pipe so she (absentmindedly) finishes the act. But the visions are too much for her to bear & it seems that Nate is getting a little cranky & secretive as well. Something is afoot & she is gonna find out who, or what it is. What she finds out is that most of Nate forefathers were nutjobs who murdered their spouses. That can’t be good for her, especially when she finds a diary of sorts & notices that the dates on the diary correspond to the dates when she got pregnant, miscarried, moved, etc…etc..And there’s still the issue of Nate going away to the city for days at a time to “Do some work”. Is he having an affair?
You see, what The Black Saint hates about movies like “Fertile Ground” is that they do mostly everything right. The actors are more than competent & attractive enough to keep my eyes affixed to the screen. The film looks good too, nice cinematography, set design, the whole nine. But it tells a story that’s been told dozens if not hundreds of times over the years. Fuck, the Lifetime channel seems to have a movie like this on every week. And that’s a big problem if you’re trying to create a effective ghost story that’s gonna make people wanna tell their friends about it. In addition, the script itself is utterly rote & ridiculous. There are massive gaps of logic to be found here, none of them make any sense & seem to be just arbitrarily thrown in for shock value. Except none of them are particularly shocking, They’re just stupid. For instance, if someone just flew out of a window from the second floor of your house (To her death I might add), wouldn’t you think there would be one cop investigating the scene somewhere…anywhere? I know they live in the middle of the sticks & all but really? No questions asked by anybody? At all?
And then there’s the music. I’m sure Joseph Conlan is a fine composer of music for film, I really am. The problem with his score here is that it’s FUCKING LOUD!! It’s especially loud whenever something is supposed to scare us, which is just downright lazy & obnoxious. Who do they think is going to watch this movie? We all know why the music swells up like that at those moments & it just doesn’t work here. Mainly because nothing scary is happening at the time. Maybe director Adam Gierash thought he had himself a little scary moment there but he didn’t. Not in the least. It’s a cheap tactic that just highlights the fact that nothing of particular scariness is going on & I hate it when filmmakers rely on it to buttress their films. It almost never works unless there is something genuinely frightening going on. There isn’t anything even remotely frightening going on through the whole movie.
As I mentioned earlier, the problem with movies like this is the fact that the people behind it are either assuming no one has ever seen something like this or they’ve tweaked the formula enough to make what might seem like something we’re all familiar with at first…different. That’s not the case with “Fertile Ground” at all. It’s a “Filmmaking by numbers” sort of movie. The writers (Gierash & Jace Anderson) knew what is expected of a ghost story & dutifully made one. But it’s all been done before & much, much better. “Fertile Ground” looks good but after a few minutes you’ll find that looks aren’t anything without any substance. The “Surprise” ending is so patently stupid I don’t wanna talk about it (I just did, didn’t I)? Note to Gierash & Anderson: I’ve seen the same ending about 3,000,000 times on TV & on the big screen. Your script sucks & aspires to nothing more than pablum for the few housewives that sit around all day watching sh*t like this & calling it “Scary”. You should both be ashamed of yourselves for stealing someone’s money & giving them this tripe in return. The word you both should be focusing on is “Originality” from here on out. Say it with me……”Originality”. There! That wasn’t hard, was it? Now work on it.
All in all The Black Saint is still going to give “Fertile Ground” 1 Shroud out of 5. I’m feeling generous today I suppose. But don’t bother with “Fertile Ground” because the filmmakers certainly didn’t bother themselves with trying to make a decent movie.
The Black Saint