British director Ben Wheatley is making quite a name for himself as a filmmaker within the horror community. Bursting onto the scene in 2009 with his first feature, a crime thriller called Down Terrace, he won the Next Wave prize at Fantastic Fest in Austin, TX, and Best UK Feature at the Raindance Film Festival in London. The success continued with his next feature, the rapidly growing cult film Kill List, when he went on to be nominated for various awards at the 2011 British Independent Film Awards. The film ended up coming away with one, for Michael Smiley in the “Best Supporting Actor” category, against the extremely fierce competition of Tom Hardy, Benedict Cumberbatch, Eddie Marsan and Ezra Miller.
2012 saw a slight departure from the crime/horror niche he so skillfully crafted with his third feature, Sightseers, a dark comedy which follows a 30-something couple on a road trip and the murderous hi-jinks that ensue. That same year, however, Wheatley snuck back into horror territory as he directed one of the best and most innovative segments of The ABC’s of Death.
However, Ben Wheatley’s newest directorial effort looks to be a strong return to the horror genre. Entitled A Field In England, the film appears to blend psychedelic horror with a period piece film. Set during the English Civil War, A Field in England follows a group of deserters who have fled the battlefield, crossing paths with an alchemist, who enlists their help on a treasure hunt. While searching for food, the deserters feast on hallucinogenic mushrooms, and from there descend into chaos. The film bears a striking resemblance to Nicolas Winding Refn’s Valhalla Rising, as well as slightly to Paddy Breathnach’s Shrooms and Jim Jarmusch’s Dead Man. With crisp black and white cinematography and Wheatley co-writing (with Sightseers’ actress/writer Amy Jump) as well as directing, A Field In England appears to be one hell of a trip.
A Field in England will be released in the United Kingdom on July 5th, marking the first time a homegrown title has been released simultaneously in theaters, on DVD, free TV and video-on-demand in the country. Drafthouse Films recently acquired the North American rights to distribute the film at the Cannes Film Festival, with an as-of-yet unannounced release date. Stay posted at Diabolique Magazine for more news and a review to come.
– By Robert Vaughn