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Welcome Indie film fans! Feind had a moment to enjoy a little Indie the other night which was one creepy film riding the edge of horror, drama, mystery and thriller so call it what you’d like just don’t be…
The other night I found myself up late looking for something interesting on Netflix and since my last trip had panned out so well with The Seasoning House I thought I’d give another a shot to a film that I had passed by a few times. The description really told me next to nothing but it had a personal favorite actor of mine in it in Michael Shannon who most of you know as General Zod from that atrocity called Man of Steel (sorry, I hate that film) but I’m a fan for his awesome portrayal of Richard Kuklinski in The Iceman and some other small character roles he’s done. I believe The Iceman is also on Netflix and if you haven’t seen it I highly recommend it for Shannon’s perfect portrayal of a complete sociopathic serial killer who was a long time Mafia hitman (based on a true story if you didn’t know). So anyway let’s dive into The Harvest…
The hard part here is not to give away all the excellent plot twists written in by Stephen Lancelloti on his first screenplay credit (I doubt it’s the first he’s written). Also a little shout out to director John McNaughton who has directed several films but what caught my attention on his history was his directing of Haeckel’s Tale for Masters of Horror a few years back which was excellent and a great interpretation of one of my favorite Clive Barker short stories but moving on. I can’t honestly tell you the reason for the title or what the title “The Harvest” means without giving this entire film away which I won’t do. All I can say is keep the film’s title in mind and when you realize its meaning it should sicken you. So what can I tell you? The main thing I have to say is that trying to figure out what the “f” kind of movie this was for over half the film is what kept me watching. It has a very creepy vibe and tone but you have for a while what looks like it may be some kind of young romance type of film ala My Girl or something which if that was all that was going on I wouldn’t have keep watching. It was trying to figure out what the hell was going on between Richard (Michael Shannon) and his wife Katherine (Samantha Morton) over their apparent invalid son Andy (Charlie Tahan). Andy is in a wheelchair when he is able to get out of bed and overprotective mother Katherine makes sure he does nothing to possibly injure himself even home schooling him herself. You begin to realize though that for some reason Richard and Katherine don’t seem to want anyone ever seeing Andy. This is where curious little Maryann (Natasha Calis) enters in. Maryann has recently lost her parents and has come to live with her grandparents played by Leslie Lyles and legend Peter Fonda. It doesn’t take long for Maryann to befriend Andy much to the chagrin of Andy’s mother.
This is where I worried the film was going the route of My Girl but there was something going on that I hadn’t figured out yet. Aside from being an overprotective mother Katherine is also a doctor and Richard is or was a nurse (nice role reversal Mr Lancelloti!) who have dedicated their lives to caring for Andy. But why all the sneaking around to get medicine? Why is Andy not allowed to do… well anything? What is this frail young boy afflicted with? Katherine is beyond pissed off that Maryann just won’t leave dying Andy alone going to visit the grandparents to put an end to Maryann hanging around. Of course, kids will be kids and Maryann sneaks over to Andy’s taking the poor boy outside to do the one thing he wants to do most in the world, play baseball. Katherine is never far away though and in the rush to get Andy back in the house mistakes are made. Maryann gets trapped in the house taking refuge behind the basement door until she ventures into it. What she discovers there is the big mystery of the film. I won’t spoil this one any more than that but hang on for the final act of this one as Katherine begins to spiral out of control, Richard admits to having an affair but won’t leave Katherine alone with Andy and just why is Andy in the condition he’s in? And just what in the hell is “The Harvest”? You’ll have to watch for the answers.
This is an excellent writing debut for Stephen Lancelloti and he should be commended. The plot twists are many but none are contrived or come completely out of left field. My only real complaint is an opening scene which only seems to be tentatively related to the rest of the film but honestly that’s a very mild complaint. John McNaughton does an excellent job of pacing the film in such a way that it stays creepy without going too overboard and the drama and mystery is tense but again never heavy handed. The acting is superb from the entire cast including the two youngsters Natasha Calis and Charlie Tahan who seemed extremely genuine throughout, without which the film would have fallen apart. If you’ve read my other reviews you know I’m more a fan of a good story over everything else. I can overlook pretty much anything as long as the story is interesting but The Harvest is the complete package with a great story, great acting, excellent directing and well yeah, pretty much everything important. I was going to knock it for being so elusive in the first half of the movie and there are things you’re never actually told but in the end they don’t really matter. I initially had a rating in my head of 4 out of 5 but in writing this review I think I need to bump that up so as you can tell The Harvest is…
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Feind loves watching movies of all kinds so if we watch it, we tell whether you should as well. I'll share mostly horror but I also enjoy everything from big Blockbusters to micro-budget Independent films.
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