Most horror fans will remember the first time they watched low-budget classics like The Texas Chain Saw Massacre or The Wicker Man. Yet now in an age of an excess of content and digital video, it is rare to experience the grimy, low budget nastiness that these films delivered. Everything seems to have a slick polish about it, never fully transporting us into the sheer terror, panic and claustrophobic helplessness that these films, video nasties or classic cult cinema did so easily. However, low-budget horror The Farm comes somewhat close to capturing these emotions that Tobe Hooper’s 1974 slasher classic crafted so efficiently.
This 2018 horror landed with a 3.7 IMDB user score and 24% audience rating score on Rotten Tomatoes. Not massively enticing to viewers, yet we do feel somewhat like it has been given something of a raw deal – excuse the heavy-handed cannibal pun. Released late 2018, straight to video, The Farm was the brainchild of writer-director Hans Stjernswärd – serving as his debut feature after numerous short films to his name.
The setting is a familiar one within the genre of the horror film – rural USA where we see frustratingly good-looking couple Nora (Nora Yessayan) and her boyfriend Alec (Alec Gaylord) becoming ‘animals’ on a ‘human farm’ after stopping at an off-road B&B. Whilst that concept alone is nauseating enough, Stjernswärd’s film raises numerous thematic questions about contemporary society, pairing these with grizzly low-budget horror imagery – some of which truly disturbs and unsettles to the core.
It is somewhat refreshing to a film with such an extreme messages and one that will tackle most of its audience members with the reality of their own actions with quite a heated head-on intensity. The core message of The Farm confronts the reality of humanities wastefulness and disregard for animal life by placing our protagonists as ‘animals’ within a farm. In essence, its an extreme avocation for veganism. This concept allows for Stjernswärd to present some scarring imagery – caged humans, babies killed, cattleprods used, guts slit, women milked. It’s all unpleasant, troubling stuff that produces an emotional dread and reaction similar to low budget slashers and video nasties of the past.
Yet aside from the political and social commentary of The Farm – there is an engaging bear bones horror here. The vegan message is there whether you engage with it or not, but its hard to detach from the brutal, tense horror that Stjernswärd projects. Watching Nora and Alec’s desperate struggle to escape the farm, whilst constantly facing setback after setback is reminiscent of the dread conjured up by the likes Friday the 13th, Halloween and Tobe Hooper’s early works – when you think its all over, it most certainly is not.
Not for the faint of heart, but The Farm is an unpleasant genre feast that should satisfy fans of classic low-budget horror. Others should steer clear of this grizzly piece.