Movie Review: HARVEST LAKE (2016)

Harvest Lake is a film that is not like anything else I have ever watched.  Going into this movie, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  A part of me thought that maybe there would be a hideous creature in the depths of said lake that terrorized the locals and tourists, and a part of that is true.  There is something in the water… but also in the woods.. something that slithers and seduces… beckoning you to come closer so that it may grasp you with its very large and suggestive tentacles.  The best way I can describe HARVEST LAKE is that it is a cross between a soft-core porn that you would find on Cinemax, a touch of Lovecraftian lore, and the humor and terror that you would find in a horror film.

HARVEST LAKE is from director Scott Schirmer (FOUND) and stars Ellie Church (HEADLESS), Tristan Risk (AMERICAN MARY), Jason Crowe (DEAD MOON RISING), Dan Nye (THE LEGEND OF WASCO), and Kevin Roach (THE CONFESSION OF FRED KRUEGER).  The story is about five friends who go on a mini-vacation/birthday celebration to a cabin in the woods, but don’t be fooled, this isn’t your typical “cabin in the woods” horror movie.  As the movie progresses, and we are introduced to each character, we come to find out that something is most definitely lurking in the lake but also throughout the woods and it’s quickly beginning to seduce each character… with devastating results.

Now, it took me some time to finally figure out what I felt about this movie.  Did I love it?  Did I hate it?  I fall somewhere in-between.  There are parts that I absolutely loved and parts that I could have done without.  What HARVEST LAKE definitely is is an experience and one that I wasn’t expecting.  If there is one thing that this movie does right is that it certainly leaves an impression. What I liked more about the film is that it’s right up in your face and it doesn’t apologize for that.  If you are going to go balls to the wall (no pun intended), you might as well go big.  This film isn’t for everyone and if nudity and sexual themes/innuendos/suggestions (you get the point) aren’t your thing, than I would advise that you skip on over this one.  The sexual nature of this film is pretty much the focal point through the entire story.  These creatures that our characters encounter remind me of other-worldly beings from a Lovecraft story mixed with the sexual depictions you would find in a HR Giger painting.  You don’t have to have a vivid imagination to get what the director is trying to portray on the screen.

Putting aside the imagery, I thought that the story could have used a little more meat on it’s bones.  I wish I could have known more about why these creatures were here or what they wanted with each person on screen.  However, I did really enjoy the transformation scenes that some of the actors went through on account of these horrific creatures.  I liked watching each actor get sucked into this tailspin of sex, obsession, and death.  As for the acting, I thought it was decent and everyone that was on screen held my attention.  With that said, I need to point out that Ellie Church stole the show.  HARVEST LAKE is the first film I had seen Ms. Church in and I thought she nailed it.  I was completely enthralled with her story and I truly think she is going to be a force to be reckon with.

For you gorehounds, I wouldn’t say that this movie is necessarily over-the-top gory, though there are a few scenes that I think you will enjoy.  I would categorize HARVEST LAKE as a film that just makes you feel uncomfortable while watching, especially when it comes to bodily functions that you may be familiar with if you have ever had sex.  There were quite a few times where I felt uncomfortable while watching the movie, but isn’t that what horror is all about?  I would rather be uncomfortable than bored out of my mind, so I applaud HARVEST LAKE for pushing me to that limit.

Overall, HARVEST LAKE has a lot going for it.  I love the imagery and the design of what the film was going.  I loved that they used bright colors throughout the movie and didn’t rely on tones of black and gray; its what I would imagine tripping on acid to be like.   I think that the film could have used some help story wise and with some of the acting, but regardless HARVEST LAKE is a film I won’t soon forget – and that, in and of itself, is a rare treat.

Shannon McGrew
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