Thomas Robert Lee (director)
16 November 2020 (released)
15 November 2020
Drawing from the likes of M Night Shyamalan’s The Village and Robert Eggers’s The Witch, and others in the isolated community/pagan (or folk) horror sub-genre, Blood Harvest is in good company and just about manages to plough its own furrow in its own nasty way.
Set in 1973 in a community that has closed itself away from society living a life of piety in an orthodox Christian religion with Irish accents. That is apart from Agatha (Catherine Walker) who lives on her own with her daughter Audrey (Jessica Reynolds) whom she keeps hidden away from visitors, and hides in a box when they travel beyond their home.
The community is also going through a period of crop failure and hunger which Agatha is immune to, and she appears to flaunt when she goes through the village while a family are burying their child. A confrontation with Colm Dwyer (Jared Abrahamson) results in him slapping her.
After an intervention but barely getting away Agatha makes her way to a coven for a ritual during which they drink Audrey’s blood, the deal appearing to be blood for successful harvest and crops. On the way home Audrey gets the call of nature and is seen by one of the villagers. Agatha scrambles to save the situation with a promise that he never saw her but the man is mesmerised and disturbed. It’s at this point that Audrey grows tired of boxes and hiding. Admonishing her mother for not standing up for herself she takes matters in to her own hands beginning with a visit to the Dwyer’s home.
Jessica Reynolds alabaster hues set against the rural settings and dark interiors stand out and writer/director Thomas Robert Lee uses her presence very effectively as she begins to take control of her domestic situation and take revenge on the community. Reynolds is impressive ratcheting up as her character begins to assert herself.
The film for some reason is chaptered into four sections that neither detracts nor adds very much to the overall scope of the film which is visually impressive. It however doesn’t scare very much or have much in the way of tension. Though there’s a certain dank grubbiness about it that itches the skin. It is nasty; abortion with a cutthroat razor and various shootings and slashings see the blood run freely.
Blood Harvest had its UK premiere at FrightFest on 24 October and will be available on DVD and digital from 16 November.