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Dark Harvest(2023)(Review)

Last Halloween season, director David Slade (30 Days of Night, Hannibal) had released a return-to-form horror film that was strangely shelved by the production company. It was due to come out long before it had, and when it did finally get released, it went almost exclusively to streaming services. Due to this, it was missed by a lot of horror fans – myself included. But the fact of the matter is this is a film that begs to be seen when the upcoming Halloween season approaches.

‘Dark Harvest’ is loosely based on a novel of the same name by Norman Partridge. It tells the story of a small Midwestern town in 1962 that has a yearly tradition called the ‘Halloween Run’. There is an evil spirit that arises every Halloween night named Sawtooth Jack, who emerges from the cornfield outside of town and attempts to make its way into the church at the heart of the town. If he succeeds, the town will face a devastating storm/plague that will ruin their crops and income for the upcoming season. It has happened before, so it is taken gravely serious. The highschool boys are drafted to participate in the run which has a brutal setup. They are locked in their bedrooms for three days and starved so that they can get primally raged and starving to kill the creature and feast on his candy innards. The reward for this? Is $25,000 cash and a Chevrolet Corvette that is offered up by the town’s Harvesters Guild.

The film itself has a typical ‘IT’ meets ‘The Outsiders’ vibe with it’s timely set piece that makes it interesting in set-dressing the environment. As the boys are starved and released for the run, it quickly turns into a ‘The Purge’ meets ‘Pumpkinhead’ mashup where the boys are trashing the town, looting the local butcher for his meat, and hunting for this monster that is absolutely incredible and terrifying.

David Slade really has put everything on the front by giving us beautiful cinematography, authentic settings, lots of visceral violence, and a series of questions that push the viewer to continue watching. There’s even a scene where the monster goes into a room where a bunch of kids are hiding and all you see is the monster entering in slow motion while a literal geyser of blood shoots out through the doors. It’s stylish, it’s dark, and it’s grim.

Sawtooth Jack himself is a very cool creature that feels like what I always imagined ‘Pumpkinhead’ to be… it feels like that creature mixed with ‘Jack-o’, for it has a scarecrow’s base but organic material that give it facial features and claws. It kills the boys with a single slash of it’s talons and decapitates them with ease.
This movie is fantastic, and it’s a goddamn shame that the company didn’t give it an authentic theatrical run when it released last October, because it really is the best Halloween-centric horror film we’ve gotten in a while.

‘Dark Harvest’ is currently streaming on Prime Video and available to rent on VOD services.

‘Til Next Time,
Mike Cleopatra

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