The Reel Review
Every Halloween, the teenage boys in a small Midwest town in the early 1960s compete to catch and kill a supernatural pumpkin-headed specter known as Sawtooth Jack, before it can make its way from the cornfields to the town church. The winner earns freedom to leave town. If they lose, the town has a poor harvest. The younger brother of last year’s winner decides to break the only one-winner-per-family rule to earn his freedom, in this horror/fantasy.
The good news about Dark Harvest are the excellent visuals, crisp cinematography and some pretty gnarly kills for gore aficionados. Even the monster looks pretty chilling. Director David Slade (30 Days of Night, Hard Candy) keeps those aspects of the film humming along at a decent pace with a mostly unknown cast. The biggest name is Elizabeth Reaser (The Haunting of Hill House) as the boys’ mother.
The bad news is that he is working from one ridiculously bad, nonsensical story from writers Michael Gilio (Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves) and Norman Partridge. The duo borrows heavily from such films as Children of the Corn, Pumpkinhead, The Purge and even the Shirley Jackson classic short story, The Lottery, but there is zero context as to why this happens each year, why people can’t leave town and why the teenage boys are starved for three days prior to the big event. This is one confusing, time-wasting harvest best allowed to go to seed.
• Dark Harvest is the film adaptation of Norman Partridge’s 2006 novel.
• Elizabeth Reaser also worked with director David Slade on Twilight.
• Dark Harvest was filmed in Beausejour and Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.