Rating:A Field in England is a singular experience, a historical drama that could also be classified as a horror movie or a druggie head trip. It looks great in crisp black and white and features one of the most astonishing mushroom-induced trips ever filmed. However, it is also an extremely confusing feature saddled with a script filled with non-sequiturs and giant-sized plot holes.
Taking place during the English Civil War, A Field in England begins when a small band of men flee from battle and meet up with the evil O’Neil (Michael Smiley), a villain who keeps our heroes at bay by drugging them with psychedelic mushrooms. O’Neill believes that there is treasure buried in the battlefield and that one of the men, Whitehead (Reece Shearsmith), can lead him to the loot.
It may sound like a solid premise, but director Ben Wheatley’s film is full of implausible situations, including characters that come back from the dead and murky motivations. It’s best to let logic fall by the wayside and simply enjoy A Field in England’s twisty plot, even if it makes little sense. If any film comes close to what it feels like to be on mushrooms, this is the one.
It is obvious that Wheatley and his crew are more about creating a feeling and tenor than a film that makes sense. Wheatley doesn’t, however, fill his film with anachronisms, so it feels genuine to its 17th century setting. The characters can be difficult to understand as they speak in an appropriate dialect, but it doesn’t really matter what they’re talking about. There are some interesting ideas about metaphysics and astrology, but Wheatley and screenwriter Amy Jump tend to get sidetracked with juvenile jokes and scatological humor. It’s hard to tell if A Field in England is a big lark or if Wheately and Jump really have something to say.
The one scene in which all jokes flee comes at the climax, when Whitehead finally eats the poisonous mushrooms and goes head-to-head with O’Neil. Wheatley goes all in with the psychedelica, as all the images on the screen fold in on one another and the screen flashes in hyperdrive, the best recreation of a drug trip since Enter the Void. It may not amount to much, but the sequence is one hell of a trip, making A Field in England a candidate for late night showings for cult film lovers all over.