Dark Harvest is a new movie by director David Slade. It was originally supposed to be released in 2021 but was delayed a couple of times due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The movie is based on a novel of the same name written by Norman Partridge which was released in 2006.
The plot here is definitely an engaging one. Each year, the young men of a small town have to participate in an event known as “The Run”. This is when a spirited demon awakes and causes chaos. The young men have to do their best to kill the spirit, who is known as Sawtooth Jack. The one who defeats him will receive a new house, a new car, and money for their families. Women and previous winners are not allowed to participate. Young men are starved days before in order for them to unleash their aggressive natures while hunting. Sawtooth Jack is very dangerous and boys will die. Someone must stop Jack before he reaches the church. Why? The harvest could die. Why is any of this happening? We don’t really know.
The movie is filled with atmosphere. The cinematography and set pieces are astounding. There hasn’t been a movie in a while that has oozed with the feeling of Halloween as much as this one does. The movie takes place in the 60s and everything that has to do with the style is on point here. The concept while similar to other movies or novels is still such an entertaining one.
Casey Likes who is most notably known for playing Marty McFly in Back to the Future on Broadway plays our main character Richie here. He does a very good job with what he is given. He is told he cannot participate in “The Run” because his brother won the previous year and it is against the rules for anyone else in the family to try. Richie doesn’t want to live in his brother’s shadow and chooses to participate anyway to prove himself. He carries the film nicely with his ability to convey insecurity, drive, and emotion throughout.
What also works really well here is the gore and creature design. I was really surprised with what might be some of the best kills of the year. Sawtooth Jack is a mix between Pumpkinhead and Slenderman. Tall, lanky, and able to creep around without being seen. He has a huge jack-o’-lantern face, breathes fire, and can rip someone in half with ease. I would love to see this character more. Hopefully in a better film overall though.
What Doesn’t Work?
The script is weak with a lot of dialogue not coming off naturally. There are many pacing issues throughout. We don’t spend enough time with certain characters that should be fleshed out more. Some relationships between characters aren’t fleshed out well, so we end up not caring much when these relationships are in jeopardy.
The biggest blunder is all the plot holes. There are plenty of times in movies where the audience can be left with an ambiguous ending and leave with stuff to talk about. Here, this is not the case. What magic makes Sawtooth come back every year? We don’t know. Why is this town cursed? We don’t know. What truly happens if Sawtooth isn’t stopped? No idea. Why are people not allowed to leave town? Not explained. When we can’t even begin to paint a picture of why things are happening, that is a big problem. When a story is as messy as this one, it is hard to become fully invested. Dark Harvest has a lot of good but it’s surrounded by a mediocre movie.
Dark Harvest is an entertaining horror film that truly has that Halloween feel. It is gory, well-shot, and full of style. I really wanted to love this movie. During the first half, I was ready to add it to my yearly Halloween viewing for sure. Unfortunately, the messy script as well as the insane amount of plot holes brings this from being a great movie to just being a fine movie. If anything, it’s even more frustrating, because we have so many clever ideas here that only tap the surface of their potential.
If you are looking for a new movie to watch on a Friday night in October that has that Halloween feel, this is a fine choice. Just don’t expect the next great Halloween movie, or to really remember this one come November.