In A Field in England, a small group of Civil War deserters are tricked and then forced by another armed and slightly crazy soldier and his lackey into searching an expansive field for supposed buried treasure. After summoning spirits to guide them and then partaking in some unknown mushroom eating, all of the men begin to lose their grip on reality and realize that this field might not just be hiding treasure.

In just five years, director Ben Wheatley has emerged as one of the UK’s edgiest and brightest talents. He doesn’t care whether certain genres can feasibly blend into one film; he smashes them together anyway, resulting in exciting singular visions. Down Terrace crossed the gangster film with Ken Loach style kitchen sink drama; Kill List was an audacious mix of hit man movie and satanic horror freak-out; and last year’s Sightseers took a romantic comedy and injected a dose of violent vigilante thriller. A Field in England is his most experimental work to date, taking place entirely in the seemingly endless English countryside. Using a period piece setting and slowly turning it into a psychedelic trip film, Wheatley makes the characters creeping sense of dislocation and insanity turn into our own. When the inevitable stroboscopic acid montage arrives, it’s a doozy of sound and image editing. The film is gorgeously shot in black and white with several stylish slow-mo sequences and the whole mood evokes a bad dream that you can’t wake up from, although there is still a strong current of black humour coursing throughout.

I’m not sure I fully grasped Wheatley’s dark surrealist vision on just one viewing, but it’s a film I eagerly await revisiting, like stepping back into another dimension.

Is A Field in England opening weekend worthy?

Yes, go see this oddity and let it wash over you. Ben Wheatley’s films are the kinds of unique works that play great with cinephile crowds.

A Field in England opens Friday, March 14, 2014 at The Royal. Check their website for details and showtimes.

A Field in England trailer

A Field in England gallery