The best way I can describe Rows is a mash up of Groundhog Day and Children of the Corn as written by the Brothers Grimm. A young woman serves an eviction notice to a mysterious woman squatting in an abandoned house. In the aftermath of this she finds herself kidnapped and placed under a spell. She keeps reliving the same events and even though she reacts differently the outcome places her back at the start. It doesn’t matter if she kills her attackers or if she dies, the cycle repeats. She must figure out a way to break the cycle or remain under the witch’s spell.
Despite the elements of magic and murder Rows isn’t really a horror film, it’s never scary and it never really tries to be. It is more like a fairy tale, in the style of the original Brothers Grimm tales before they were sanitized for kids. There’s kidnapping, human sacrifice, murder, seduction and betrayal, played out in a tale that while never really scary held my interest as I tried to figure out what was going to happen next.
And figuring it out isn’t easy as so many things change between cycles. Friends become foes and vice versa. What led out of the cornfield once doesn’t work the next time. It’s like trying to solve a Rubik’s Cube when the colors keep changing. And even after the pieces fall into place there’s a few surprises waiting, saying much more would spoil the movie.
The small cast does a good selling the story, playing the same characters in different ways as the plot requires. They tend to have a long list of bit parts and really throw themselves into a large role, with good results. The dedicated genre viewer will however recognize Lauren Lakis from appearances in several lower budget horrors. She shines here as Greta, the protagonist’s best friend/adversary.
Most of the film takes place in a cornfield, hence the title, and despite it’s green and sunny appearance it doesn’t take long for it to take on a menacing feel. There’s a scene where one of the girls climbs on the other’s shoulders to try to see the way out and still can’t see over the top of the stalks. It gives a feeling of isolation to the relatively small area.
Rows ultimately is a good film and well worth the time to watch. It won’t scare you, but it will keep you very entertained.
A behind the scenes featurette about the film, The Strange Case of Rows the Movie