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The Harvest(0)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: John McNaughton

Starring:
Samantha Morton/Katherine
Michael Shannon/Richard
Natasha Calis/Maryann
Charlie Tahan/Andy
7 10
PLOT-CRUNCH
A sick young boy (Charlie Tahan) and his parents (Samantha Morton and Michael Shannon) sees their regimented lives disturbed when a young orphan girl (Natasha Callis) moves in the neighborhood and starts getting in their biznazz!
THE LOWDOWN

Director John McNaughton was a favorite of mine back in the day with his shocking Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986), the “out there” The Borrower (1991) and the intense Normal Life (1996). But after the (overrated in my opinion of course) Wild Things (1998) and one Masters of Horror episode in 2006 (called Haeckel's Tale) he vanished off the face of the horror celluloid graveyard. Thankfully the man returned to the genre fold this weekend with the THE HARVEST (now out on VOD – see it here), a film that I knew very little about beforehand and that wound up firmly grabbing by the collar and keeping me in its grasp till the end.

THE HARVEST is gonna be a tricky one to ramble about without threading onto the SPOILERS mine field, so let me ruin the ending right now for ya: Godzilla shows up and stomps everybody into mash potatoes– THE END. Just kidding (and yes I know that was not funny at all) o no worries I’ll keep it vague for y'all. For the first hour or so; THE HARVEST set up and developed its stage, characters and nuanced relationships brilliantly. I immediately cared about the poor sick boy, was weary/intrigued by his parents who both pimped out an ambiguous aura about them and once the orphaned girl got in the mix I was moved (by growing her relationship with the boy) and eventually slapped around like a hooker holding back chump change from her pimp, as the lass' presence upped the stakes of the narrative big time!

Now I think of it, this was definitely a performance driven picture and boy was I spoiled in that department! Charlie Tahan was much likeable as the sick kid who yearns to have a normal life, Natasha Callis (whom you should remember from THE POSSESSION) was freaking incredible, with so much of her internal monologue and vulnerability expressed through her eyes here. It was swell to witness her in another genre film, she’s such a talented young actress and I hope for bigger things for her as she grows up. And the same can be said about “Arrow fav” Michael Shannon (who wound up being fairly sympathetic for a change) and Samantha Morton who simply went to town with her role. If the Oscars actually looked at movies outside of their little circle-jerk, Morton would be nominated for this one; talk about a bouncing off walls and riveting show! Add to all that sweet jive  McNaughton sniping a winning visual style my way (think every day life meets fairy tale meets horror show), an effortless pace and some powerful moments of tension and you get a solid little movie that hit the spot!

So why didn’t I give it a higher mark? Well there were two things that grated me here. I figured out the WHY and the TWIST way too early on and that kind of took away from my sit down. With that it wasn’t a huge deal because I was still invested in the characters and the chain of events at hand. What truly got under my skin though was this HUGE plot hole that the film sported at about the halfway mark. And being that for the most part, the screenplay was superior to the norm, it made that dense moment they tried to make me swallow go down even worse. Let’s just say it had to do with how the young girl acted AFTER the reveal and also how her grandparents i.e. fairly usueless characters (Was that Henry Fonda cashing a check?) reacted to her plight. Nothing a small polish on the script before shooting couldn’t have fixed – kind of blows my mind they kept that in there. Lastly the finale was maybe a little too over the top for my tastes. But hey that's just me!

Overall though, I’m glad that I gave THE HARVEST a whirl this morning. If you’re looking for a movie with confident directing and exceptional performances this weekend, give it a watch!

GORE
Some icky surgery bits and that was it.
T & A
None!
BOTTOM LINE
John McNaughton is back to the land of human horror and he brought his big bulldog balls with him! THE HARVEST was an involving flick with well drawn characters, layered relationships and a fantastic cast doing the "doo"! Charlie Tahan, Samantha Morton, Michael Shannon, Natasha Callis! TAKE A BOW! Yup, the actors here truly made it happen for me! Granted, the film’s surprises were a tad see through and that one “duh to serve the plot” device spat on what was thus far sturdy storytelling, but even with them flaws, I recommend you check this one out! Worth at least one watch!
BULL'S EYE
The screenplay was written by newcomer Stephen Lancellotti. Talented guy if I go by this one!

The film premiered in October 2013 at the Chicago International Film Festival.
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