The story behind Farm is a pretty straight-and-narrow one, not to mention incredibly familiar. The zombie apocalypse has occured in a small, rural farming town, and believed to have been a wide-spread incident. Farm takes place in an undisclosed period of time after the start of said event (something that is never revealed, by the way) as we follow two brothers who stay alive at their family farm house. Charlie (Michael Hotop, The Case) saved his little brother Simon (Freddie Meyer) from an attack, essentially taking on the role of provider by looking after the farm and what few chickens remain. However, their life of solitude is abruptly changed when a woman named Sarah (Ashley Salazar, The Tomb) wanders in searching for her younger sister following an escape from the undead hordes at a nearby “safe zone”.
What follows shows how quickly the climate of one’s existence can change with the slightest disturbance. While Sarah isn’t there long, her presence leads to discussions off camera about the goings on, what happened to family and friends during the zombie apocalypse when Charlie isn’t around, not to mention the confirmation of something Simon had been struggling with ever since the aforementioned attack. What follows is a long build-up to a mishap at the local store in attempt to get some much needed fresh water, and the belief that the shambling horde somehow suddenly knows all three reside at the farm because of it, something that makes little sense given they apparently never figured it out before the hack writing needed some sort of dramatic conclusion, or any real tension what-so-ever.
While Farm carries a horror themed foundation with zombies, the film itself is nothing more than a barren wasteland of a minimal drama. It’s a slow crawl that takes it time plodding around to almost nothing. While not always a bad tactic, the whole production starts past the initial zombie outbreak, and even ends without any sort of closure beyond Sarah’s character being written to be a careless bitch. In fact, the film paints her like Eve enticing Adam, (Charlie) to taste of the apple (freedom) during the escape when Simon talks about how he’d help his brother more by staying behind than actually going with him, begging he be left behind so they could leave together. Other than having saved Simon’s life and some exposition about his previous job and what happened to his family, there’s so little character development for our three members of the main cast that you greatly loathe Sarah, even though you end up caring little for the others. I feel I know more about Charlie’s father and sister than I do him or Simon, honestly, and I only spent seventy minutes with those two as opposed to maybe five, six minutes of dialogue with the two absent individuals of this feature.
Other than a very poor story that takes forever to achieve the most minimal of unsatisfying goals, the acting is actually far more atrocious. Charlie has more of a fatherly tone in his voice most of the time that works to build the role of responsibility in him, but when delivery and emotion matter it falls incredibly flat, though not as much as Freddie’s cardboard delivery of every single line, and Ashley’s trying just enough to sound anything other than mildly concerned or scared. There was more life in the supporting cast of zombies, particularly the roughly five second shot of the face of one laying lifeless on the ground after Charlie kills him than those two combined, only making the plodding progression over the next seventy-four minutes absolutely painful to sit through.
That aspect of Farm, however, did make me do something I rarely do, which is rewind it three times to try to make sense of the dialogue. At one point, Sarah tells Simon they are leaving in the morning, and Simon begins explaining why he apparently won’t be joining them. His lines are so jumbled that it makes almost no sense at all and, well, after repeat viewings, they still really don’t. It also doesn’t help that every line of dialogue from Freddie Meyer’s mouth is just a stale brooding emo approach that makes it seem like he’s high on every sort Vicodin knock-off known to man. This scene in particular suffers in that the effects show by him just starting and stopping his lines as he goes. There’s also the same effort in the scene when he wakes up and starts talking to someone that isn’t there, and you realize he’s talking to himself about something that makes as much sense at the very scene itself existing does, as well as the last few minutes of the film where Charlie tries putting more emotion into the scene, but he couldn’t be bothered to so much as breathe a dramatic sigh.
The only good aspect of this film is the production value itself. The film looks modern enough, but thankfully not shot on hi-8 or any other shot-on-video methods out there as it simply wouldn’t work out. The angles are well done for the most part, the dialogue is leveled well enough, and keeping the film restricted to a few locations in general doesn’t force the viewer to have to pretend the events that took place might have happened while civilization seems to go on behind the camera like some independent zombie productions out there. In a way, it breathes a Night of the Living Dead atmosphere, and it works very well in the movie’s favor. However, it’s score is another story, as it almost never shuts the hell up, even for the sake of tension. There are some periods of silence, but it’s like a modern day television soap opera that tries to make every moment of the film far more grand or depressing than it really needs to be, which only further takes away what little emotion resides in the delivery of the character’s lines.
Farm has little to keep the viewer interested at all. In fact the story is so god awful and bland that I nearly fell asleep a good three times watching thanks largely to the soft dialogue and extensive scenes of just walking around the farm. There’s only a small handful of brief events to stir the listener out of their day-dreaming slumber, one of which I will contest as an intentionally loud roar of an engine to ensure the audience is awake. Walking away from the film, it all just seemed like writer Paul Farrell had been hurt by a woman at some point, perhaps one who tore his family apart somehow, and place that anger in a zombie apocalypse setting as Sarah herself seems the most fleshed out character, while Simon and Charlie the most absent given how they seem more like a memory of what a father and brother should be. All was well and good for the two until a woman walks into their life, thus destroying what semblance of existence these two brothers had left. Farm is a full-length feature film that should have been nothing more than a thirty minute short experience, and even then would still be something best overlooking.