30 September 2015

THE HARVEST/2013/JOHN McNAUGHTON


Director John McNaughton has not churned out many films in his career. In fact since his notorious Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (a film I need to review, along with his The Borrower) was unleashed on the word way back in 1986 his output of films has been spotty at best and it has been ten whole years since his last film. And it seems that is fine with McNaughton himself who does feel driven to pump out a film every year or two. With The Harvest we have a rather low key horror/suspense film where the emphasis rests more on the story, acting, appearance and a more beautiful than haunting film score (all done on real analog instruments rather than digital synths) than on scary gimmicks and copious blood letting. The film could almost drag at times for some viewers but it never really did for me. Situated in a quaint little house in rural New England the story centers on the newly formed friendship between two children and their strained relationships with parents, in one case, and grandparents on the other. Acting by the kids (Charlie Tahan and Natasha Calis) is top notch and they hold their own against adults Samantha Morton, Michael Shannon as parents Katherine and Richard and even Peter Fonda as an old hippie granddad. Katherine and Richard are holding a dark secret from ailing son Andy. He is befriended by new girl Maryann who has had to move in with her grandparents after the death of her parents. The friendship is not tolerated by Katherine and Morton really gives an unnerving performance as the domineering and controlling mother. A small cast and an almost one set location could have made the film plodding, but it does not become that and there is a twist or two I did not see coming. Not that it matters in most cases if I see a twist coming, but I like when my jaded old ass is caught off guard now and then. The ending left something to be desired for me but that is often the case in these types of films anyway. Not a bad return to film-making for McNaughton, Lets hope it is not another ten years for a follow up.





1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I will keep an eye out for it. Anything with Micheal Shannon in it is worth a look. The guy's quiet intensity, and sometimes LOUD intensity, make everything he's in fascinating to watch. TAKE SHELTER was a fantastic movie, just the tension of the character getting ready to boil over. Thanks for the tip.
Kneel before Zod!
(Sorry about that, I couldn't resist)
M.P.