I always give an extra rocket to any movie with a title that makes me curious enough to watch it, when I might not have otherwise. Farmhouse is just such a generic title that would offer almost too much to the imagination with most genres. However, for a horror movie, it conjures thoughts about as foreboding as thoughts get—isolated, broke down car, no phone service, too far from the nearest city, etc. Farmhouse borrows from those clichés, only to surprise us with a trip down a most unexpected back road.
As Farmhouse opens, we flash to a dark moment in someone’s past—a little girl, in church, receiving a rosary from a woman, maybe her mother, being told that it will protect her. The woman leaves, as if to be gone forever, while a man approaches from behind; he could be a priest, but somehow we know he’s not. Yes, this is a horror movie already!
As if in a different movie, we flash to Chad and Scarlet—a couple fleeing from something also unknown. Could it be the man from the church? Could it be something from their past; something dark, dangerous, and evil, or perhaps, worse, their own personal demons? Who knows? I’ll be sure not to spoil the mystery here. However, one thing is for sure. Whenever characters in a horror movie are running from something (no matter what), you can bet your last dollar that it will catch up with them. We feel that here, strongly, even before we know what it is. The plot unravels, through flashbacks and mayhem, revealing threads of danger, guilt, and evil in everything and everyone.
It took me some time to know where Farmhouse was headed on the Space Jockey Rocket Meter. At first, there was a chance that the launching of this movie missle might have been scrubbed altogether. If Chad (William Scott) and Scarlet (Jamie Allman) were the main actors alone, Houston would have indeed had a problem. Their acting seemed stilted and underdone in the earlier scenes. However, once Chad and Scarlet arrive at the Farmhouse, Steven Weber and Kelly Hu save the movie with the rocket-fueled performances needed. They nail the part of the unlikely and overly friendly couple who inhabit the Farmhouse. Even Scott and Allman give better performances at this point, perhaps reacting to energy from Weber and Hu. Yes, from this point forward Scott and Allman step up to the plate (or rather, the Farmhouse) and show their true acting abilities.
With all the clichés expected from this title, I was surprised that Samael (Weber) and Lilith (Hu) were as ordinary as they as they appeared. The only exception to “ordinary” is Kelly Hu’s extraordinary beauty; she’s a smokin’ babe hot enough to launch a rocket without fuel! Hu is more sexy, coiffed, and dolled up than you’d ever expect the farmer’s wife to be in a horror film (but I’m not complaining); Steven Weber is also far from the backwoods hillbilly. This is a twist that can almost be disturbing, until you realize you’re expecting a stereotype and, instead, being fooled—or so you think! “May the worst day from your past be the best day of your future,” although said by mistake, by Samael, reminds us again that this is a horror movie where people are not what they seem. Instead, everyone is really more like the mistakes they make.
Outside the Farmhouse are pleasant vineyards, green pastures, and everything to make the most wound up nerve ball feel some slack. However, once inside, we realize that it’s anything but the picture-perfect Gothic Americana. Yes, within this façade of the heartland is a most heartless profile of insanity. Thanks to Kelly Hu’s talent of moving one eyeball independently of the other, she does more than the best special effects crew could do in a scene involving a meat thermometer. Later, the line “You’re knee is ruining my grater,” is one I’ve already added to my list of favorite film quotes. At first, I wasn’t sure if Jamie Allman (as Scarlet) was screaming enough during her torture scenes. However, since I’ve never been tortured, I can happily say I don’t know enough to be sure. I suppose, rather than underacting, it could just be how her character deals with it—especially when we realize who she really is!
Farmhouse gets another rocket for doing what so many horror movies don’t. Many characters in such movies do ridiculous things that increase their chances of being a feature victim. In most such movies, character stupidity defies even the smallest amount of common sense. Not in Farmhouse! There’s a great double-tapping scene that alone deserves to be seen by seen by all horror fans. Before the second tap, Chad says,“I just want to make sure.” That’s a line you’ll rarely hear from a would-be victim in a horror film! In most, it’s more like, “That’s good enough! Let’s run some more, until he really kills us next time.”
Farmhouse has more twists and turns than a carnival fun ride; however, somehow, we are never as surprised as we could be. For better or worse, things always seem too ominous from the start to be surprising in the end. The only exception is the very end. The last moments of this movie hit me like a brick, far exceeding anything I expected. This made earlier predictability more like planned success than unplanned failure. Yes, just when you think you know the story, because you’ve seen it before, you don’t. Some may find the end too stereotypic with its ultimate arch fiend. I didn’t, again because I didn’t see it coming. Even clichés can be fresh, when they aren’t expected.
Farmhouse is not a perfect movie; it’s nowhere near perfect. If you’re looking for a Hollywood-style production, with evenly-polished acting from start to finish, look elsewhere. If you’re looking for something that follows everything you expect in a movie called Farmhouse, look elsewhere. If, instead, you’re looking for a good late-night horror flick that transcends its lower budget, winding up better than expected, you might give this one a chance. This one has enough mysteries, enough unpredictability, and enough fan fodder to keep your mind working like the Devil till it’s done.
“If I weren’t who I am, I’d think you two were horrible people,” is another line from this movie that I added to my favorite movie quotes! In the end, the banality of evil is never truer than it is in Farmhouse. The worst of places can indeed be the most familiar places we know. If Friedrich Nietzsche had watched Farmhouse, his famous quote might have instead been, “When you gaze long into a Farmhouse, the Farmhouse will also gaze into you.”
Starring Steven Weber, Kelly Hu, Jamie Anne Allman, William Lee Scott, Nick Heyman, and Jack Donner, Cinematography by Tim Hudson, Edited by Phil Norden, Original Music by Mark Petrie, Special Effects by Brandon Ellison, Chris Hampton, and Trevor Lawler, Produced by Todd Chamberlain, Brandon Ellison, Mike Karkeh, Harvey Lowry, Kami Norton, Ken Schwenker, Paul Seng, and Todd Tucker
For a description of Rocket Rating 7.5, click on the Rocket Meter above!