A low budget independent horror film is not necessarily a bad horror film, but George Clarke’s The Blood Harvest is a tiring exercise in scuzzy low-end high-school filmmaking, the kind that isn’t worth your time.
The film follows a hardened detective as he desperately tries to solve a recent spate of murders after being kicked off the force. Meanwhile, in the junk yards around Belfast, two masked feral young men fight for dominance as the body count rises.
Produced by Clarke’s Belfast-based Yellow Fever Productions (Sacrament, Invoked), and also written by the director, The Blood Harvest is a film that screams for some involvement from a fresh set of eyes. Invoked was an understandable investment, it had characters and managed some level of eeriness, whilst Sacrament promised gore galore, in the spirit of Herschell Gordon Lewis’ Two Thousand Maniacs! but never pulled it out the bag.
The main problem is that The Blood Harvest thinks it can coast by on gore and torture-porn, but it doesn’t have the imagination to quite pull those moments off. The gore might have made this a Video Nasty back in the 80’s, but today it feels oddly contrived. The filmmakers seem more affected by tendon slicing and eye-popping than the viewer ever can be, simply because- in practice- it’s not done all that well.
The Blood Harvest’s stupidity isn’t particularly charming either. The film opens with the discovery of the 39th victim and a conversation about why the police haven’t told the public, but it doesn’t matter because that is a preposterous number of victims to keep hidden. Clarke seems to have written the script without actually critically thinking about how any of it will come across for the viewer. The stupid masks the killers wear look like the product of a steampunk teenager’s Etsy shopping trip, cops miss point-blank gunshots, and every time someone dies the camera slows down and fades to red. No attention is paid to the details; like how daft a murderer is when he’s wearing skinny jeans and a stupid T-Shirt. And that’s without looking at the worrying characterisation of the feral wastelanders as mentally disabled, then springing the old “nah, they’re actually aliens” bullshit. It didn’t work in Dreamcatcher, it won’t work here.
A film characterised by stupidity and laziness, The Blood Harvest has a police detective who solves the case by following a post-it which says ‘Must Investigate This Area’, and thinks he’s Sherlock Holmes after deducing that a victim had their Achille’s tendon cut to stop them escaping. With a little TLC The Blood Harvest could have been a silly gory romp, but it takes itself far too seriously and seems way too impressed with its lowly outcome.
Lazy, dumb, and dull, The Blood Harvest isn’t worth your time.
Dir: George Clarke
Stars: Alan Crawford, Rachael Galloway, Griffin Madill