The Rohl Farms Haunting is the feature film debut of film maker Cordero Roman. It is a found footage film which has been described to me as The Blair Witch Project meets The Strangers. Two childhood friends (Cordero Roman and Luke Rohl) from Wisconsin who are attempting to make a follow up documentary to their first project called 2,000 Miles From Hollywood become encapsulated in the hunt to discover what is haunting the house of the documentary’s subject (Rohl), only to realize that they should not fear what, but who, has invaded the farm grounds.
SPOILER ALERT: If you’ve not seen this film and don’t know to know details about the plot you should stop reading. You’ve been warned.
The trailer for The Rohl Farms Enterprise does a pretty good job of laying out what you’re going to see in the movie.
“In the summer of 2012, 21-year-old Cordero Roman planned to film a follow up documentary to his first effort, “2000 Miles From Hollywood,” which followed the daily life of his childhood friend Luke Rohl. Things did not go as planned. They thought it was paranormal. They thought it was supernatural. They thought wrong.”
Essentially, Cordero is shooting a documentary about his friend Luke. In the course of filming, the pair keep noticing weird things happening at the same time every night. First it’s a knock at the door, then it’s a song being played. As these “pranks” begin to escalate, Cordero starts to get worried about the situation. He even goes so far as to report the incidents to the local police which naturally leads nowhere.
The “attacks” continue to escalate to the point where Cordero’s car is stolen but it ends up harmlessly back at his mother’s home. The pair discover that there are 3 people playing the pranks on the farm. They are dressed in normal clothing and are wearing party masks of various farm animals (think of those Halloween costumes we wore as a kid with the rubber band that dug into your face). Finally, the trio of bad guys enter the farm house Luke attempts to fight them. Through Cordero’s perspective we hear a fight and he flees into the basement. We hear screams (presumably Luke’s) and after a few minutes, one of the trio is seen searching the basement for Cordero where he is hiding. Cordero manages to escape the farm house after looking for Luke with no luck.
He returns home to tell his producer about the attacks and how Luke is now missing (dead?). He lays down his camera and walks off screen. We then see The Trio in his house! They glance at the camera and then attack Cordero as he returns to the view of the camera. After subduing Cordero, his assailants look creepily at the camera and the camera shuts off ending the film.
If you’re looking for gore, you’re not going to get it here. If you’re looking for blood, you’re not going to get it here. In fact, if you’re looking for an on-screen kill you’re not even going to get that here. All of that being said, even though this isn’t a true “horror” movie it’s definitely an incredibly suspenseful and “scary” film. Gore hounds will be let down, but there is some really good stuff here.
I’ll be honest, I’m not a huge fan of these documentary / found footage films. The Blair Witch Project was genius but I think its pretty much killed the genre being so good. I’ve never seen any of the Paranormal Activity films for just that reason. The Rohl Farms Enterprise is described as The Blair Witch Project meets The Strangers and that’s a perfect portrayal. It has elements of both of those films and borrows liberally from them. Unfortunately Rohl Farms would play much better if you’d never seen either film.
Don’t get me wrong… there’s some VERY good things going on here. Quite a few actually. Cordero Roman really does know his way around a camera and has put together a very tight (if not very “horrific”) tale. There’s a scene toward the end of the film where he’s followed the perpetrators into a milking barn that is super intense both visually and audibly. If I’d never seen Blair Witch the basement scene at the end would be absolutely terrifying. The Trio has a great look to them and even though they don’t get a ton of screen time they manage to come off as really creepy and menacing.
I have to give huge props to Luke Rohl here. When you’re watching one of these found footage / documentary style films it’s very easy to see when the actors are “acting”. You see none of that here with Rohl’s performance. I kept wondering if Luke was “in on it” as he always seems to be holding back some of what he knows. It makes for a character that you can really get invested in. I could say the same thing for Cordero as well, but he’s behind the camera the majority of the film so you’re not really “seeing” but rather “hearing” his performance. Well done to both guys.
I’ve not seen any of Cordero Roman’s previous works but based on this feature film debut I’ll definitely be going back to see what I’ve missed. There are several references here to 2,000 Miles From Hollywood which I’ve not seen so I’ll probably start there. Based on this film I’m seeing good things in the future from Roman.
All film makers start somewhere. Cordero Roman has presented a found footage film in The Rohl Farms Haunting that he can absolutely be proud of. I’m not a huge fan of the genre, but I won’t be at all surprised to see this film making the festival rounds next year. You can find more information on The Rohl Farms Haunting on their official Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/therohlfarmsenterprise.
Have you seen The Rohl Farms Haunting? Leave us a comment with your thoughts!
At the time of review, The Rohl Farms Haunting was called The Rohl Farms Enterprise. Article has been modified to reflect the name change.