Fertile Ground: Movie Review

Fertile Ground
Review by Michael Pickle, MoreHorror.com

The latest and soon to be released Fertile Ground from AfterDark Films showed much promise.

A nice looking haunted house thriller with a decent, slow build and the enormously talented actress Leisha Hailey from the hit Showtime drama "The L Word" in the lead role. Had I realized beforehand that director Adam Gierasch from the sorry excuse for a remake of Night of the Demons wrote and directed it I might not have been so surprised when the movie completely fell apart about half way through.

This is further proof that "AfterDark Films" are a hit or miss. Films like Frontier(s), Penny Dreadful, and Reincarnation are some of the hits. Chalk up Fertile Ground alongside Nightmare Man and Tooth & Nail as one of the misses.

Fertile Ground centers around the loving, young couple Nate and Emily Weaver played by Gale Harold and Leisha Hailey. They are expecting their first child and dealing with a high risk pregnancy. After losing the baby they move to a sprawling, beautiful house in the country to make a new start. A house owned by Nate's family years ago.

Strange things start happening in the house and it's dark, murderous past starts to unfold. Nate starts acting weird (think Amityville Horror) and Emily is increasingly tormented by the ghosts who reside there. That's about as deep as it goes.

The script isn't horrible. It's just safe and predictable and pretty convoluted at times. I usually like a slow build and thanks to Leisha Hailey and some nice camera work; the first half of the film moved along pretty nicely. Gale Harold as Nate wasn't too shabby himself although his presence was better than his acting at times.

There was also some major flaws in his character development and his changes in behavior come out of nowhere and seem to have no bearing on what's going on. The first half was a little slow, but I liked it because I thought it was leading to something. Once past the half way mark the film incarnates every haunted house cliché imaginable.

Things seem to become very random and it loses it's flow. It didn't help that the musical score was generic and had no heart. Most of the scares are just as generic as the score and are helped along with that age-old jump scare music and it almost never works. This is one of those ghost stories where the spirit appears to be tormenting the girl, but is only trying to reveal how they died.

The skeptical guy doesn't believe her and starts acting like an ass. Watch out though! There's also another spirit there with sinister intentions. Let the eye rolling begin.

Fertile Ground is a film that could have been so much better. The writer/director had all the tools to make a good quality horror film, but wasted them on cliches and didn't know what to do with the third act. When a ghost leads Emily through the house to find her journal lying in the middle of the floor where she finally gets some answers it shows a real problem with the narrative. Why didn't the ghost just walk up and hand her the journal? If you're going to be that convoluted you might as well go all the way.

There are literally two marginally scary and effective scenes in the entire film, but they're not scary enough to sit through this entire film to get to. This supernatural snoozer seems to be churned out like a printing press with a safe script to draw talent and safe filmmakers who play by the book and stick way too closely to sub-genre conventions.

Fertile Ground is set to be released on DVD and available for Digital Download, Tuesday May 24. Also AVAILABLE NOW on VOD.

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