OCTOBER 14, 2008
There are few things that would excite me less than the phrase “From the makers of Dark Harvest”, so to the credit of the Keepsake marketing team, they avoid mentioning it. Even in the post film Q&A they just referred to their “older films” without specifically naming them. Still, if I had to pick one to sit through again, I’d go with Dark Harvest hands down.
While a giant improvement in terms of filmmaking (no glaring continuity errors, actors actually acting, etc), the script for this film is utterly worthless, making even Captivity look good in comparison. It’s actually a lot like Broken (which I watched almost a year to the day ago), in that it’s really not about anything but tying a woman up, knocking her around, and occasionally trying to “shock” the audience by cutting an Achilles tendon or plying out a tooth or whatever.
I knew I was in for something shitty almost from the start. Shortly after revealing his intentions, our villain chains the girl up in a bathroom, before heading outside to deal with a cop who has happened by. She tries to free herself while we get a “suspenseful” scene of the guy dealing with the cop. The cop eventually gets killed, and the bad guy goes into the bathroom, just as she frees herself (how I couldn’t understand – she was chained up but somehow she gets the cuffs off by pulling her top over her head?). He then injects her with some sort of serum that knocks her out cold. Why the fuck didn’t he do that in the first place? Oh right – then there would be no setpiece. And then all the people who really thought she would escape from the killer in the first ten minutes wouldn’t be engaged by the onscreen events.
The rest of the movie is the usual Moebius strip of nonsense: girl gets degraded, another girl is killed while our heroine watches, “tense” dinner scenes, torture... etc. Writer/director Paul Moore tosses in a small variable (the girl keeps dreaming about her sister, giving her pep talks to help her escape), but it’s hardly enough to keep the movie interesting in the slightest.
And then the end, which not a single person in the crowd seemed to understand (the Q&A sounded more like a brainstorming session than anything else), and was probably designed to give the movie its own identity, just makes the whole thing even more annoying. I won’t spoil it, since it’s not out yet, but let’s just say that Donald Kaufman would approve.
These are the type of horror movies we simply do not need. There is no heart in anything on screen. If I had to theorize, Moore and producer Scot Tanner looked at the box office reports for the Saw and Hostel movies (too late to check Captivity’s I guess), maybe watched the trailers and got the “gist” (i.e. torture, twist endings) and decided to try to make their own. Seeing Dark Harvest actually made it even worse, because the two films have absolutely nothing in common thematically, stylistically... hell, if I hadn’t bothered to look at the IMDb, I would never even imagine they were the work of the same team. Seems to me that they failed at making a “fun” slasher film, so now they are apparently trying their hand at torture porn.
Some of the films at Screamfest have been underwhelming, such as Acolytes, but at least I could tell that the film was born out of an actual desire to tell a particular story, not to just make a cheap horror movie and hope to cash in on a “craze”. Congrats on your future deal selling Keepsake to Lionsgate (or, *fingers crossed*, Dimension Extreme!) and being one of a million undistinguishable movies on the shelf that only people like me will ever bother to watch.
What say you?