On Halloween night, a reporter in the small town of Baileyville, Oklahoma and those closest to her learn the meaning of horror as their town's dark history is revealed.
Written by James Orrell
I knew little going into The Harvesters beyond the fact that several of the producers are people whose name carries weight to me. I knew they would try to make it the best possible film that they could. I'm glad I trusted my instincts because The Harvesters not only hit all of the right notes with me, it did so well enough that it made my Top Ten List of 2016.
The Harvesters has everything going for it. It reminds me of films such as The Fog, Children of the Corn and the original 1970's Wicker Man. Instead of going the gory route and relying on shock value(not that there is anything wrong with that!) it's true horror comes from the suspense it creates. There is an air of mystery surrounding the film that grabbed me from the beginning and held my attention until the very end.
The small town setting in a state that isn't normally seen in a film helps the isolation of the main characters as well as generally making the entire premise work. The whole "town with a dark past" subgenre doesn't work for more populated areas. The fact that the film was actually shot in Oklahoma definitely helps the setting feel very real.
The cast is made up of a bunch of unknowns that really help as well. Everyone feels realistic to me and not simple cariactures that too often happen in horror films. I appreciated what everyone brought to the table, but of all the cast Alissa Rose Ford stood out the most to me. As the lead character Jane, she sucked me in and made it so that I couldn't help but root for her every second she was on the screen. I wanted to follow her on this mystery and uncover it with her. I really can't express enough how much I thoroughly enjoyed her portrayal of Jane.
The mystery to the plot itself was incredibly well paced. Nick Sanford(who also directed the film) gave me just enough of the proverbial carrot to let me know what was behind this town's dark past while managing to keep me wondering what exactly was behind it all. I simply couldn't ask for better pacing when it comes to a film like this.
Speaking of Nick Sanford, he did a wonderful job directing as well. Every shot is framed beautifully and there are moments that gave me a delightful chill up my spine. More importantly, it conveys the tone of the film and invokes a sense of dread as the film plays out that cannot be understated. It's easily one of the best shot independent horror films that I have seen all year long.
The soundtrack to The Harvesters is phenomenal. Classical, gothic tones play out in a way that only adds to the suspense of the film. Quite honestly, the movie wouldn't be nearly as enthralling without it. I would absolutely buy a copy of it.
With all of that praise, I'd be remiss is I said it was flawless. That score I just mentioned? Many times throughout the film I felt it's volume was far too low. Towards the end it achieves a better balance but for a lot of the film it really needed to be cranked up a bit.
There are a couple of moments that made me scratch my head as to how a character was getting away with a crime yet nobody seems to notice. It's easy to chalk it up to being a small town but I'd have loved it if there was some sense of risk involved.
I would have also appreciated a bigger body count. I know I said that I love the suspense of the film and I stand by that. However, several characters could have been killed off, offscreen even, to help give the film's ending more weight. Instead it felt a bit flat that the stakes weren't higher.
Overall I truly enjoyed The Harvesters. It is a very well made film that only adds to why I love independent films so damn much. It's not a perfect film but it is a damn enjoyable watch with an engrossing story. Nick Sanford and everyone involved made a film that helps elevate the horror genre and proves it is far from mindless. I highly recommend it to fans of movies like The Fog. You won't be disappointed in the least.