Saturday, December 24, 2011

#495. Fertile Ground (2011)

Directed By: Adam Gierasch

Starring: Gale Harold, Leisha Hailey, Chelcie Ross

Tag line: "From Cradle To Grave."

Trivia:  The New York apartment scenes were actually shot in Des Moines, Iowa

Fertile Ground practically wastes the terrific performance delivered by its lead, placing her in a completely uninspired, ho-hum haunted house tale that will undoubtedly have fans of the genre experiencing deja-vu. 

Following a miscarriage, Emily Weaver (Leisha Hailey) and her artist husband, Nate (Gale Harold), leave the city and move to a house in the country, which has been in Nate's family for 150 years. While carrying boxes down to the basement, Emily comes across a mysterious, old trunk which belonged to Nate's great-great uncle, William Weaver. Later on, when a human skull is unearthed on the property, she begins looking into the house's history, finding that a series of murders have been committed there over the years. With Nate spending more and more time away from home, Emily's left to deal with the strange goings-on inside the house, and is convinced the old place is haunted. 

From the moment she appears on-screen, staring at her pregnant belly in the mirror and beaming a smile, we connect with Emily, and Leisha Hailey is the reason why. The actress gives a breezy, effortless performance, and when Emily suffers her miscarriage, we're as devastated by it as she is. She remains a strong, likeable character from start ro finish, and any tension the film generates is due solely to the fact we care about Emily, and fear for her safety. Gale Harold is fine as the artistic husband, but its Ms. Hailey who steals the show. 

As a ghost story, however, Fertile Ground fizzles pretty quickly, tossing out one cliche after another. As Emily is unpacking, she notices a handprint on the window. She wipes it off, but the print returns the minute she leaves the room. If that's not tired enough for you, how about the mysterious trunk in the basement? I'm not sure how many haunted house films have fallen back on that one, but I'm guessing it's more than a few. There's even a hidden compartment at the bottom of the trunk, which contains old photos of the house's original owners, and (surprise!) the man in the picture looks exactly like Nate! After the skull's found buried in the front yard, and Emily starts looking into the house's past, she discovers (I hope you're sitting down for this) it has a long history of suicides, bizarre disappearances and unexplained murders connected to it. Leisha Hailey's excellent turn aside, If you've any experience whatsoever with movies of this nature, you'll have seen all this before. 

The ground may, indeed, be fertile, but it sure ain't fresh!


Evapal said...

Sounds like something that has been done so much better since by American Horror Story.

Dave B. said...

Evapal: Thanks for stopping by!

Sadly, I can't say whether or not AMERICAN HORROR STORY has improved upon this film because I have yet to see the show! But from everything I'm hearing about it, I'd guess you're absolutely right.

Thanks again!