Farmhouse is a straight-to-vid horror/thriller with a lot going on. It
is one part domestic melodrama, one part torture porn, one part crime
thriller and one part supernatural horror film. Yup, a lot going on.
Probably too much.
Oddly enough, I've already spoiled the movie for you. "That doesn't
make sense," you think? But it does. I spoiled things when I told you that
there are supernatural components. That seemingly innocent statement is a
spoiler because the supernatural elements don't enter the film until the
last couple of minutes, when all the plot loopholes are explained by
supernatural mumbo-jumbo. The supernatural is the hole card which changes
everything at the end, kind of like the improbable straight flush which
flummoxes the Cincinnati Kid. Before the supernatural enters the picture,
the Farmhouse establishes a variety of red herrings to get the audience to
seek a rational explanation for some outlandish and surreal goings-on.
That's not as bad as it sounds. One of the most famous short stories in
American literature, Ambrose Bierce's "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge,"
which was also one of the most acclaimed episodes of "The Twilight Zone,"
follows that same structure. In addition, the same sort of last minute
"Guess what? Not real!" switcheroo has driven some pretty good movies as
well. An Adrian Lyne film called Jacob's Ladder comes immediately to mind.
Of course, those two works were not really supernatural, except to the
extent that they took place in a first person point of view, and most
people's thoughts and beliefs include some sort of supernatural elements.
In those two cases I cited, the authors simply misdirected us into
believing that certain confusing events on screen were actually happening,
when in fact they were just pictorializations of the stream of
consciousness. The authors created a dramatic and effective tone shift by
waiting until the last moment to pull the rug from under us and tell us
Unlike those efforts, Farmhouse takes the supernatural elements way
over the top. Prior events don't just seem confusing because they
reflected somebody's confused dreamscapes, but because they were really
happening to the characters - just not on our plane of existence. That
moves the device too far in the direction of cornball pulp, all the way to
the point where we want to groan at the ending and call it a cop-out
rather than to take pleasure in its cleverness. Indeed, most people would
probably call this film's big revelations silly rather than poignant,
especially when the clarifications are delivered by people in grade-B
Bottom line: a good enough film to get me to watch all the
way to the end to get the explanation, but not good enough to
leave me satisfied by it.