dark harvest | paul moore | don digiulio | jeanie cheek | jennifer leigh | scarecrow | monster | monsters | creature | creatures | slasher | supernatural | b.w. york | comedy | united states | jessica dunphy | paul bugelski | j.p. linkous | ralph baber | bootie chewning
Film: Dark Harvest
Director: Paul Moore
Writer: Paul Moore
Starring: Don Digiulio, Jeanie Cheek and Jennifer Leigh
This was a film that I sought out, because I had seen a film that was considered to be a prequel to it, Scarecrow. I came into this one knowing that it wasn’t really a sequel and the only thing that is similar is the fact that there are scarecrows in it that are the villains. The synopsis is a group of teenagers go to an inherited family farm, only to be attacked by a killer scarecrow.
We kick off with a speech from Franklin D. Roosevelt about the Great Depression and what is happening with crops dying. This is given over images of the drought that hit. We then shift to a farm in West Virginia in 1932. It is run by Elijah (Paul Bugelski). He is visited by the sheriff and his deputy. The reason for the visit is Elijah’s wife was fleeing while pregnant and she is missing. The officers look around the farm. People are suspicious as this is the only farm that is able to grow crops and people think something is up. It is during this that the sheriff realizes what the scarecrow really is. This ends in a shoot-out that kills all parties involved.
It then shifts to the present. Sean (Don Gigiulio) meets with a lawyer who informs him that his biological father passed away. As part of his will, the family farm, its house and barn are now his. He has 90 days to decide if he wants to keep it or sell if off. He doesn’t know what to do and feels guilty for his adopted parents. Sean talks it over with his girlfriend, Alex (Jessica Dunphy). She really wants him to go at least check it out.
Together with their friends, they make the trip to the property. They go with two other couples, Darcy (Jeanie Cheek), her girlfriend, Angela (Jennifer Leigh) and Bryan (B.W. York). They find the place doesn’t have running water or electricity. There is a generator, but no refrigerator. Sean goes to get more ice that first night and meets with a strange old woman, who tells him an odd story about the property. He returns to the house.
Sean does more exploring and discovers a graveyard that spooks him. He really believes what Maggie told him and wants everyone to flee. The problem is that what she predicted is coming true, they are attacked by three scarecrows that are out for revenge for what Elijah did.
This definitely falls into category that I really liked some of the aspects, but the execution just wasn’t there. I know that this at one time was considered a sequel, but it really is a stand-alone film from that. I really like the idea of starting this back during the depression and that Elijah is doing something that’s dark to ensure he doesn’t lose his land. I think it gives enough of this back-story to hook my interest.
Getting the group of people to the property I also thought was good as well. I think it is a legit reason, even though if he has no plans to stay there it doesn’t seem to make a lot sense to keep it, unless it is cheap to pay the taxes. I like the isolation of the house, but I do think that are some things that really doesn’t fit though. An example here, it is wired for lights and has a generator, but it is stated that no one has lived there since the 1930’s. It doesn’t make sense if that is the case. Another aspect is they make it seem like Elijah’s wife was murdered. If that is the case, there shouldn’t be anyone in the family line, because it would have died there.
Something else that I did like was this becomes a supernatural slasher film. I can get behind this, but the problem is the decisions made are just completely stupid and are only done so the film can get characters to certain places. Sean will tell people they need to split up, then tell them that they need to stick together, only to tell them they need to split up again. What makes it worse, characters call him out on this as he does and suggests them again. This seems like poor writing to me. It is sad though, because we have a solid concept and set-up to this. I do think this actually hurts the pacing of the film as well. The film doesn’t build tension and I don’t care enough about the characters. We’re given minimal information about the scarecrows, so we really don’t connect with them either. The ending though was fine for what the film was doing.
I won’t harp on the acting too much, because this is a low budget film. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Digiulio. I do think some of it poor writing, but he doesn’t convey enough emotion for me as the hero. I did find his girlfriend to be quite good looking and I thought her performance was fine. She was also plagued with bad writing. The rest of the cast is actually fine for a film of this budget, they don’t convey much emotion, but for a slasher film they are diverse enough.
Something that I was impressed by though was the effects. They were actually mostly practical, which really surprised me. The blood in the film looks good. We get a few different death scenes, which is solid for a slasher film like this. The weapons used aren’t very common which is solid. Some are done off-screen, which makes sense at times and others it makes we want to see them. There was a bit of computer effects, which weren’t great, but weren’t bad either. I really didn’t have any issues with them to be honest. The masks used for the scarecrows were rubber and they don’t look great, but I won’t harp on that too much.
Now with that said, this film is frustrating, because it could have been much better than what we got. There is a good set up and I think the concept isn’t bad, but we just don’t get it fleshed out enough. The writing isn’t great, which is what I really think is hurting it. It is a low-budget film, but it actually has mostly really good effects. Acting for the film wasn’t great; it is fine for this type of film. I just think that we don’t get enough character development and some of the key players aren’t good enough to carry this. It doesn’t build the necessary tension that we need. I think this is a below average film, with some good aspects to it.
My Rating: 3 out of 10