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‘The Harvesting’ is Loaded with Supremely Dark Material (Review)

Written by: Matt Molgaard

Directed by: Ivan Kraljevic

Cast: Elena Caruso, Chris Conner, Jennifer Gareis

A film about familial struggles as much as the ghosts that haunt a seemingly peaceful Amish community, The Harvesting effectively intertwines the discomfort that can accompany new surroundings and the often unhealable wounds of infidelities. It’s a dark picture, on more level than one, and although the overall production may face a few fiscal limitations, the picture is crisp, the performances are generally spirited and the scares are varied and operative.

The story offers two parallel dangers to the protagonists, Jake and Dinah, and their two youngsters Steven and Michaela. First, the relationship between Jake and Dinah isn’t strained, it’s stretched so taut the fibers are snapping, and that trouble has left the children so terribly fragile that they’re all but welcoming the second layer of conflict into the family’s home. That second layer homes in on the ghosts of the local territory. Dark spirits dwell in the dense forest surrounding the family vacation home. These spirits are merciless, and they sense the vulnerability in the children – and they strike. What ensues is a spiral of horrific proportions, and sadly, there may be none left living to walk away from what amounts to a battle between good and evil.

As a husband of sixteen years, and a father of three (14, 2 and 6 months), I’m particularly sensitive to any story that burrows in the seams of the family bond and tears, weakening that hold slowly but gradually before bursting free to leave nothing but carnage behind. These are tough pictures to watch, because often – assuming the screenwriting is strong, which is the case here, thanks to the talented Ben Everhart – the troubles that families face on screen mirror the problems we really face, in the real world, where no cameras follow and no director’s scream ‘cut.’ Depending on whose statistical studies you’re examining, between 55 and 70-percent of marriages end as a result of infidelities. It’s the number one reason couples divorce in America. So, you know that’s coming here. But where it all leads, that’s a story to be seen, not told.

Both Chris Conner and Elena Caruso (Jake and Dinah, respectively) do an excellent job of convincing the audience that things aren’t all cheery here. And as each descend into dark mental corridors, we believe it. Conner pulls his best James Brolin wood chopping routine, and viewers will certainly feel the rage oozing out of the man’s pores. Likewise, viewers won’t care much for Caruso’s Dinah, a byproduct of a powerful showing. And, we owe youngsters Noah Headley and Accalia Quintana a proper head nod. They’re young, but they’re going to be special should they choose to remain in the business.

Here’s the simple truth: The Harvesting isn’t a big production. It isn’t elaborate and it isn’t loaded with awe inspiring special effects. However, what the film does offer are a handful of slick scares that might sneak right by you if you’re not watching closely. You’ll also get an assortment of memorable performances and an intricately assembled story loaded with eerie setups and sharp and unsympathetic scares. Keep an eye out for a finale that isn’t afraid to flirt with supremely dark material.

Rating: 3.5/5

trailer-theharvesting-poster

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About The Overseer (2283 Articles)
Author of Say No to Drugs, writer for Blumhouse, Dread Central, Horror Novel Reviews and Addicted to Horror Movies.

1 Comment on ‘The Harvesting’ is Loaded with Supremely Dark Material (Review)

  1. Hey Matt,
    So what would happen if The Conjuring,Sinister and The Witch got together and created their own film project? I have a slightly excited feeling that it might just b The Harvesting! I am much more a fan of imagery based horror, over the Boo! Blood and Guts fbre that, while it has it’s charms, can come off as flat and forgettable. The above-mentioned 3 films all have amazing strengths and astounding weaknesses, the possibility of a project coming together that keeps the good and loses the time wasters…WOW! Think of the possibilities…The Conjuring was, in my opinion the strongest overall, Sinister was the creepiest and The Witch far and away the most visually stunning
    It’s interesting, there are 3 basic ABCs of horror, yet it is so rare to find a project that nails all 3 completely and effectively.
    I feel as do most folks, that we are in “the age of Wan,” and rightly so. His Conjuring ( and to a lesser degree, it’s sequel) started with fairly strong, believable scripts. That’s the A in horror, the dialogue should be crisp, believable with some well placed humor, and it never is a bad idea to have some iconic quotables, both scary and funny. Characters that seem interesting, but not colorful to the point of disbelief Situations that grab our attention, and keep us involved. Twists and turns can be wonderful, as long as they don’t bruise the project or bring about audience disconnection.
    Director Scott Derricksons Sinister took a fairly popular but” over ” subject: the found footage issue. But Derrickson ladeled on some truly creepy, atmospheric camera angles, placement and movements,plays with disorienting lighting and shadows indicates very gory unnervingly violent situations, while not showing us the real acts (although it’s sequel pushed the gore factor up a bit). This type of standard issue practical FX is used quite often to identify the subgenres of horror the film wants to be. I also feel this type of shock value FX, is used to cover plot deficiencies or amp up interest in a film that has not more than that to offer. Still when used effectively, efficiently and for plot purposes this B element of horror is expected, more from some projects than others, and total absence of it can damper a film’s effectiveness.
    Which leads us to the C of horror, imagery and overall atmosphere. The Witch(and in a different way It Follows) are 2 examples of completely opposite use of horrors C elements.Robert Eggers Direction of The Witch makes effective use of his designer’s past. Completely authentic props and sets, static and slow moving camera work. capturing stunning, natural light images giving things like a forest, an apple and a black billy goat a sense of evil, evoking a sense of paranoia, dread and simple uneasiness.Although alot of fans felt that while this film revels in an overdose of C, feeling that B is sorely missed.
    Perhaps The Harvesting will get the formula “just right”…,we can only hope and wait… I’m just saying..

    Like

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  1. Accalia Quintana – The Harvesting – Full length feature film – Lead

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