REVIEW: Blood Harvest
– By James Pemberton
Certainly low budget is the way in George Clarke’s BLOOD HARVEST and it wears it on its sleeve. It’s not a film that sets out to break new ground but aims for the market of indie horror that strives for gore and shocks with a relatively insane, if somewhat uneven and often ropey execution.
A series of grizzly murders around Belfast have left detectives baffled. One of the leads on the case, Jack (Render) has an outlandish theory of who or what might be behind the murders which leads him to trouble with his superiors and after a heated over the phone argument he is given his marching orders. 9 months later and with the murders still going on, Jack’s colleague, Hatcher (Van Der Velde) is still on the case and is in contact with his old colleague, who seems to have been passing his time spending the past months sat in a chair, staring at a map with locations of all the murders. It’s up to Jack, who eventually finds a site in which the murderer or murderers might be committing their heinous crimes, to take them down and eventually end the carnage.
BLOOD HARVEST is a simple premise on paper and it certainly is that in practice. However it does throw some curveballs towards the end and especially in a final reveal that is pretty bonkers that almost slaps the viewer into a major “you got to be fucking kidding me” moment. It kind of reminded me of a short story I wrote in high school aged 11 or 12, where the twist I made out was just so daft that it blew any sense of logic of what I just wrote previously completely out of the water. I wont reveal it as it’s almost worth watching the film and getting through the uneven and often poorly paced first hour or so to reach.
Yes it’s not well made, but then Clarke is utilising everything he can with the limited use of means that a low budget filmmaker has. Credit to him for this as the film has a sort of delirious appeal of a low budget mid nineties horror that could have been released on the Screen Edge or Troma label. But at times it’s a bit of a slog to get through, with scenes that pretty much show the characters actions when its not necessary to do so. Yes I know the character goes from point A to point B, but do we really need to be shown it? The acting is also clumsily delivered, especially with Van Der Velde’s character telling us that Jack is one of the best Detectives on the force quite a few times in case we forget. Most of the actors sound like they’re delivering dialogue more inclined to have featured on Garth Merenghi’s DARKPLACE which could lead us to interpret whether the film is a comedy horror. This is further heightened by the appearance of the killers, who both look like they’re mugging for the camera with grunts and groans, completely out of place, to suggest an inbred up bringing, which is not really convincing since they don’t look that inbred and just look more like they are deliberately chewing the scenery. The killers, though, on occasion wear masks which are well made and add an unusual slight surreal edge to their look, that both works in effecting a creepy appearance when they’re busy out stalking their human prey.
Whilst it’s easy to criticise elements of this film, you can at least appreciate Clarke’s enthusiasm and often b-movie approach to the picture. It’s at least got inventiveness, albeit in a ridiculous manner in regards to the twist, which is completely total bonkers schlock, and also showcasing some gore effects which will keep the hardcore genre fans happy. But unfortunately like many low budget horrors, it has an often frustrating lack of tight pacing and a weak script, coupled with a slight unconvincing approach overall, which sometimes hampers what otherwise could have been a decent genre flick.