While low-budget independent filmmaking is often to be applauded, sometimes genuinely talented and original filmmakers are overlooked when it’s becoming easier than ever for any old wannabe to pick up a camera and make a ‘movie’. It’s a shame when some of the better aspiring talent is forced into making unappealing genre films (because that’s where the money at this end of the market is to be found), but the result is that you find them ploughing more imagination and intelligence into those movies than their audiences have any right to expect. The Blood Harvest, however, is entirely lacking in wit, intelligence, insight and ingenuity; it’s an example of cheap horror for cheap horror’s sake, poorly made, badly acted, sloppily staged, incompetently edited, ill thought through, wholly implausible and often ridiculously distasteful – but sadly, thanks to the absence of conviction, never to the point at which any of these things become entertaining.
Opening with some context-less torture pornography – later excused in a preposterously risible exchange of info-dump exposition – writer/director George Clarke’s film is too enthralled to his ideas to set them within a convincing framework, so as it develops, clichés pile upon clichés with no attempt made towards credibility or verisimilitude. Ostensibly the story of two Northern Irish detectives on the trail of a serial killer with a bizarrely idiosyncratic MO, no background is provided for either, nor indeed for any of the killer’s victims, and it is impossible to care what happens. There is a scene at the end of the second act in which the disgraced half of the duo, having spent nine months staring at his map of the murders and apparently on a whim, having recently investigated to no avail the location marked with a post-it “Must investigate this area” (for reasons not given), suddenly realises the notelet had slipped on its drawing pin and the arrow had been pointing to the wrong place. The rest of the film is equally as insubordinate to believability. “It’s almost like they’re collecting for some sort of harvest,” one of the detectives later says, the scriptwriter too enamoured of his own wordsmithery to realise what he’s written.
It gets worse. Once unmasked, the murderer subsequently gives what is probably the most offensive performance ever committed to camera, and even that is outdone by possibly the most ludicrous plot twist in the history of direct-to-video, which the dialogue contrives to make even less credible with every added implausibility. Crass, unpleasant, insubstantial, shallow and worst of all dull, even what might have been The Blood Harvest’s saving grace- its photography- is spoiled by lackadaisical editing, gratuitously weird angles and the absence of any kind of objectivity in the directing. Appalling.
Special Features: making of, bloopers, trailers
THE BLOOD HARVEST / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR: GEORGE CLARKE / SCREENPLAY: GEORGE CLARKE / STARRING: ROBERT RENDER, JEAN-PAUL VAN DER VELDE, RACHAEL STEWART / RELEASE DATE: 25TH JANUARY