Review: Harvest Lake

Five friends fall under the seductive influence of a libidinous, otherworldly presence that threatens to change their lives forever.
Written/Directed by Scott Shirmer
Starring Jason Crowe, Ellie Church, Tristan Risk, Dan Nye, Kevin Roach
Review by James Orrell
Before I get into the meat of the review, I want to make this abundantly clear. Everybody here at FDTC are huge fans of Forbidden Films and Mostly Harmless Pictures. Found, Headless, Time To Kill and Run are all personal favorites of mine that I believe give new life to indie horror in their own unique ways. So when we found out about the collaboration between the two, I was beyond excited for what was coming. The result was Harvest Lake and I am going to go out of the way and say this right now. Harvest Lake is far more than what I expected. In fact, I will say without reservation that this film is both the most mature film and the best film both companies have ever made.
I won't get too deep into the story because doing so would be a grave disservice to any viewer, but here's the basic premise. A group of friends go out for a vacation to an isolated lake deep in the woods. Things then slowly goes for the group.  Sounds pretty much like every other cabin in the woods film, right? Well trust me, this is far different than you'd think.
The biggest difference between Harvest Lake and any of it's contemporaries lies in it's execution. Unlike any other movie of this ilk, the filmmakers took a slow burn approach. This movie isn't about wild gore or rampant nudity(not that there's anything wrong with wild gore or nudity, mind you). No, what Harvest Lake goes for is the atmosphere and the lingering shroud of darkness that slowly overtakes the group. It makes every minute that passes by more tense than the last, culminating in a fever dream of debauchery, darkness and corruption.
Honestly, the greatest star of this film is the location itself. It feels like a character in and of itself. This is thanks to Director of Photography Brian Williams' keen eye. To say that this film is breathtaking to look at is an incredible understatement. Harvest Lake is quite honestly the most beautiful indie horror film I have ever seen. Honestly, there is nothing else that's even close.
All of the stars were incredibly well cast. Too often in lower budget films the thing that suffers most is the acting. That is definitely not the case here. In particular, the two rising scream queens Ellie Church and Tristan Risk steal the show. Both of them made me feel that their characters weren't simple stereotypes or that they were there simply for sex appeal. They were fleshed out, nuanced, and most importantly realistic and relatable. 
Scott Shirmer has exploded onto the indie horror scene the past few years with films such as Found and Headless, as previously stated, but in many ways those films feel like he was just getting warmed up. In Harvest Lake you can see every ounce of growth he has made as a writer and a director and I cannot overstate just how much that is. More than once he reminded me of the great William Friedkin in this movie. The mood and tone are obvious examples but just a small part of that comparison. Honestly, it's the weight of it all that really reminds me of the legendary director.  You know all these elements are flowing into one another and by the end of it you can feel it crushing the life out of you.  It forces you out of your comfort zone and makes you think about what you are witnessing. Movies like this are why I love the genre so much.
Harvest Lake is far more than I could have ever asked for. It's beautiful and grotesque, suspenseful and sublime. Every moment in it is an incredible journey of darkness and depravity. Do yourself a favor and buy a copy as soon as possible, you won't regret it. Harvest Lake sets a new standard for indie horror.