There are borders to everything; when they dissappear, madness takes control over sanity and the effects are usually devastating. “The Harvest” tells a story of a broken family, which knew no boundaries and could not accept the dying of hope in their life. Being a blend of a mysterious drama with elements of thriller and drama, John McNaughton’s film is unfortunately rather bleak and plain.
Katherine (Samantha Morton) and Richard (Michael Shannon) are struggling to make ends meet to prolong the life of their dying son, Andy. The boy spends his whole days at home, observing his corn crops throught the window and laying in bed, while his body is getting weaker and weaker, consumed by sickness and enourmous number of medications. The boy’s life changes a bit, when he meets Mary Anne – a girl, which just moves to the neighbourhood. As the mother of Andy begins to isolate him from his new friend, Mary Anne accidentally discovers a terrifying secret in Richard’s and Katherine’s basement.
The biggest flaw of “The Harvest” is being awfully plain and uninventive. It follows well-known patterns in practically every single aspect. The sickness of their child causes Richard and Katherine to become almost hostile to each other, Mary Anne’s theory regarding Andy’s past is completely neglected by their family etc. Bearing in mind the unexpected plot twist, the movie had a neat potential to be way more frightening and emotionally deeper.
McNaughton’s drama is hilariously paradoxical on many grounds. Samantha Morton lost her mind playing Katherine, but there is a method in it – she’s like a pulsing volcano and this is definitely harrowing, mixed with her igniting anger. Yet, at the same time, Morton is ridiculing herself, being over-dramatic and taking the role way too seriously. Michael Shannon’s character is the cliched husband, who lives under constant fear of Katherine and hopelessly looks for sensitivity in other woman’s arms. There is a strong feeling, that John McNaughton watched too many soap operas before he directed “The Harvest”…
The soundtrack is also painfully ordinary, as well as cinematography. None of the creators of “The Harvest” wanted to cross the line and have fun with this movie – it is almost like being under an artistic censorship during the process of production. The interior of the house, the basement, etc. – all looks like in thousand of other movies. It would not bother, if not for the interesting idea for a plot twist. The screenplay focuses on a heavy topic, which could be portrayed in a more artistically sophisticated manner. Well, it could be.
All in all, “The Harvest” happens to be a movie of wasted potential. It balances on the edge of a hilariously botched drama, mysterious thriller with some nice plot twist and a story of a bad mother and an undecisive father. If you avoid watching “The Harvest” so far – nothing to cry about.
UMP Grade: 21/50
Cinematography: 4, Plot: 6, Acting: 5, Soundtrack: 4, Quaintness: 2