The Harvest should be high on your list of must-sees
by Nav Qateel
Parents Katherine (Samantha Morton) and Richard Young (Michael Shannon) are overprotective when it comes to their sickly son Andy (Charlie Tahan). Isolated, friendless, lonely and surrounded by collectible toys, the bed and wheelchair-bound boy passes the time watching corn grow outside his bedroom window.
After her dad tragically dies, Maryann (Natasha Calis) moves in with her grandparents, who live nearby Mr. and Mrs. Young. Also lonely and about the same age as Andy, Maryann eventually becomes friends with the sick boy. But for some inexplicable reason, Andy’s mother takes an instant dislike to Maryann, and does everything she can to prevent them from seeing one another.
The headstrong and precocious Maryann, doesn’t let Katherine intimidate her, and continues to sneak in through Andy’s bedroom window. During one such visit, Katherine arrives home earlier than expected, forcing Maryann to hide in the basement where she makes a horrifying discovery that changes everything.
The Harvest is from director John McNaughton, the man who brought us the low-budget classic, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, back in 1986. The film is surprisingly well-written by first-timer Stephen Lancellotti, who clearly put a lot of thought into the script, with attention to detail that didn’t go unnoticed or unappreciated. While there are certainly horror aspects to The Harvest, it’s really more thriller than anything else. But it is the sort of film that genre fans will lap up, especially when Doctor Katherine Young (Morton) lays down enough rage to make the likes of Friday the 13th‘s Jason Voorhees squirm.
The performances were all first-rate. Michael Shannon played Richard, Andy’s dad, in a style not dissimilar to his Van Alden character from Boardwalk Empire. Which is to say, like a whipped dog, thanks to not being good enough for his doctor wife. Richard was a nurse, and he quit his job to look after Andy full-time. Katherine loves to remind her husband of how inadequate he is, and how he can never do anything right. At one point Richard jokes with an attractive former workmate of his: “What’s the difference between God and a doctor? God doesn’t think he’s a doctor.” Samantha Morton is a tremendously talented actor, and she fully embraced her wacko character. It was mesmerizing watching Morton work, as Katherine slowly came apart, after Maryann arrived on the scene to spoil her ordered life. And whatever else she was up to.
The two young stars of The Harvest were outstanding, and it looks like both actors have a very bright future in front of them. Andy was played by Charlie Tahan (Blue Jasmine), and even though his character spent a lot of time in bed, Tahan put on a convincing turn as a kid at death’s door. It would be the ladies that shone the brightest in The Harvest, and next to Morton, Natasha Calis was quite brilliant as Maryann. I last saw the young actress in The Possession in 2012, and even then I knew I was seeing someone bursting with talent. She and Tahan had a nice bit of chemistry going on that, had this been a YA romcom, for example, the pair would have worked even better together.
The Harvest may not be as edgy or ballsy as Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, it is, however, superior in so many other ways. From the cinematography and score, to the writing, acting and directing, this is a film that should be high on anyone’s must-see list.