Dark Harvest

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Its criminal that David Slade’s creature feature Dark Harvest wasn’t a bigger deal this Halloween. Based on the lauded novel by Norman Partridge and delayed twice due to Covid 19 and studio reshuffles, the much-anticipated adaptation has just slid, rather unceremoniously, onto Amazon Prime. 

Every Halloween, in an isolated midwestern farm town, a monstrous entity called Sawtooth Jack emerges from the cornrows and embarks on a night of murder and mayhem. Every Halloween the boys of the town are set loose on the pumpkin-strewn streets to hunt it down, with the one who kills the beast earning a cash payout and the freedom to leave town.

As far as the story goes its somewhere between The Hunger Games, Pumpkinhead, and Children of the Corn. Some of that is lost in translation though. Slade’s adaptation sheds Partridge’s careful character work and lore building to streamline the thrills. It’s a double-edged sword. Skimpy characters and vague plotting can’t hurt the sheer visual magnetism of Dark Harvest, though.

Partridge’s novel is one of the finest literary horror works in years, the lyrical quality of his writing calls to mind Stephen King by way of rich country beat poetry. It’s a pristinely realised world mapped out in evocative prose which operates beyond the brief of your average creature feature. Slade is the perfect man to bring the book to screen; his CV (30 Days of Night, Hannibal, and Hard Candy), proves him a dab hand at capturing rich atmospheres and Dark Harvest is no different.

Slade brings a sensuality to the scenery and a grotesque beauty to the gore. Exquisite nastiness is a tentpole of Slade’s style and he peppers proceedings with enough to make Dark Harvest a kind of macabre autumnal tone poem. Whether it’s a grizzly bisection in the moonlight or a blood geyser from an off-screen massacre, Slade and cinematographer Larry Smith find a visual style which evokes Partridge’s words, achieves the gratuitous, yet never surrenders to shlock. The same can be said for Hannibal composer Brian Reitzell who brings his customary brand of eerie low-key score to help ground the madness.

Dark Harvest is a sumptuous B-Movie if ever there’s was one. Its brisk, saturated in Halloween iconography, looks stunning, and delivers superb horror beats. Sure, it’s not particularly preoccupied with scares, but the focus on mood and visuals earmarks this a future Halloween classic and a must-see for those who love the spooky season. 


Scott Clark 

Dir. David Slade 

Stars. Casey Likes, Emyri Crutchfield, Jeremy Davies, Elizabeth Reaser, Jake Brennan 

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