Lucy’s dream of having the prom experience young women have dreamed of their whole lives has gone up in flames. Rather than a magical evening of dancing and laughing with her boyfriend, followed by the two gently making love for the first time, she finds herself holding of his drunken advances before rushing away from him while he lies facedown in a puddle of his own vomit. Along with her best friend Annie, whose own beau sent her on a one way trip to Dumped City prior to prom, the two decide to tag along with a few of the school’s goth girls and spend their post-prom at The Honor Farm. The abandoned former prison has long been the source of rumors regarding hauntings and satanic activity. What better place to spend the night chowing down on psychedelic mushrooms with your new friends?
Documentary filmmaker Karen Skloss makes her narrative debut with THE HONOR FARM and while it’s not without its charms at times, I could not help but recall in pivotal scene from Planes, Trains and Automobiles. When Steve Martin’s uptight businessman reaches his breaking point with the rambling nonsense of John Candy’s slovenly Del, he tears into him with the following advice: “ And by the way, you know, when you’re telling these little stories? Here’s a good idea – have a POINT. It makes it SO much more interesting for the listener!” It’s a film that meanders listlessly from one moment to the next, and the pretentious musings of a bunch of teens high on shrooms makes the whole thing feel far longer than its seventy minute runtime.
The biggest problem with the film is Skloss doesn’t seem to know what she wants it to be. The introduction of the former prison structure suggests a horror or supernatural element. However, despite introducing elements séance one character attempts to contact her long dead cousin, the mutilated animals that turn up now and again to a trio of would-be satan worshippers that show up unannounced nothing gets resolved and all roads lead back to the stated goal of Lucy getting laid on prom night. Each time something of remote interest gets introduced, it’s forgotten about quickly, leaving the film with a slew of dangling plot elements that Skloss has no interest in resolving or addressing as the film winds down.
The stream of conscious dialogue that permeates the film does it no favors. It’s as if Skloss stumbled upon her teen poetry journals and rather than laugh at the pretentious musings of a fifteen year old, she decided to have her characters spew her babble on screen. Trite offerings like “there’s a sunrise in every minute” do no one-not the audience or the characters-any favors.
To be sure, there’s been solid, navel-gazing, inward facing genre films of late. It takes true vision to make this type of film, where there’s such a narcissistic and self indulgent tone to them, appealing to a wider audience. While I’m sure there are some that will appreciate the charms, spare as they are, of THE HONOR FARM, I can’t count myself among them.