The Austin Chronicle

Drafthouse Films Heads to 'A Field in England'

By Richard Whittaker, May 9, 2013, 1:00pm, Picture in Picture

Pick up your musket and watch out for sorcerers: Drafthouse Films will be releasing A Field in England, the new historical horror from subversive British film maker Ben Wheatley.

Directed by Wheatley, and co-written and edited with his long-time creative partner Amy Jump, his newest project has a profoundly Hammer horror feel to it. A group of soldiers during the English Civil War find themselves at the mercy of a deranged alchemist, a field full of mushrooms, and strange forces far worse than the threat of Oliver Cromwell's wrath.

The film reunites Wheatley with his Kill List star Michael Smiley, and features cult British comedians Reece Shearsmith (The League Of Gentlemen) and Julian Barrett (The Mighty Boosh). Considering Wheatley's nightmarish proclivities, any laughs will probably be of the bleakest, most sardonic kind.

An old friend of the Alamo Drafthouse, in a press release Wheatley said, "I went to Fantastic Fest in 2009 wanting to visit a cinema I'd read about for years (and to buy up as many Mondo posters as I was allowed to take on the plane), I came away with the start of a career. Drafthouse is a name that will always be special to me and I’m really happy to be working side by side with them."

A Field opens in the UK on July 5 in a groundbreaking fashion. Through a unique collaboration between Film4, distributor Picturehouse Entertainment, 4DVD, the Film4 Channel and the BFI Distribution Fund, it will be released simultaneously in theaters, DVD, VOD and even free TV. Drafthouse is planning a theatrical and VOD release in the US this year.

Wheatley is currently on a roll, having recently signed with HBO to develop a new thriller series called Silk Road. He is also reportedly casting his next project, supernatural cop procedural Freakshift (which Wheatley has called Hill Street Blues with monsters.) He's already a long-time favorite around the Chronicle screens desk, ever since his phenomenal and gritty family crime drama Down Terrace opened at Fantastic Fest 2009. His follow-up, 2011's Kill List, was a hit during SXSW, delving bleakly into the world of mercenaries. As Wheatley told Marc Savlov prior to that festival, "They're hit men, and hit men are heroes now in films for some reason, but these guys aren't heroes. They're scum. And now you, the audience, likes scum, identifies with it."

He returned to that concept last year with spree killer romance Sightseers, which received a rousing reception at a secret screening at Fanatstic Fest 2012. It's Wheatley's real strength: Making the unforgivable palatable, while never undercutting that these are bad people, doing bad things.

Read our SXSW 2011 interview with Wheatley here, and our interview with Smiley here. More info at the film's Facebook page.

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