BTU EXCLUSIVE Review: Harvest Lake (2016)

Harvest Lake is the latest film from Writer/Director Scott Schirmer. With his latest effort, Schirmer proves that the success of his previous film, the highly acclaimed Found, was no fluke. That said; don’t expect a repeat of past works from Schirmer. Harvest Lake is a very different film than Found with a very different feel. Found was a straight ahead horror film while Harvest Lake is a stylish, hyper sexualized science fiction thriller.

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Schirmer won’t be the only familiar name connected to this much anticipated flick. It is a coproduction between Schirmer’s Forbidden Films and Brian K. Williams Mostly Harmless Pictures. Indie fans may remember Williams from his ambitious directorial debut, the grindhouse homage Time To Kill. Williams, truly a jack of all trades, obviously put in a ton of work on Harvest Lake. In addition to producing, he was the camera operator, graded the color, and mixed/edited dialogue and sound effects. While we’re at it, let me ring off a few more names you might recognize. The insanely busy filmmaker Dustin Wayde Mills was in charge of visual effects for Harvest Lake. Make up and special effects were handled by The Clockwerk Creature Company, which includes Arthur Cullipher and Shane Beasley. That’s right; the guys who brought you last year’s festival hit Headless. As you can see, this was pretty much an indie all star team, and it shows. Williams camera work is beautiful yet foreboding, proving that this filmmaker has yet to reach his full potential.

With a creepy, somewhat melancholic score, the viewer is lulled into a false sense of security as if nothing terrible could happen in a place as calming as Harvest Lake. The plot revolves around four friends, Ben (Dan Nye), his girlfriend Cat (Tristan Risk), Jennifer (Ellie Church), and Josh (Jason Crowe), who head out to the lake for Ben’s birthday. With such a small cast (seven characters in total), we feel as if we are out in the woods with them. Later in the film, this also intensifies the feeling of isolation. By the end of the film, the city feels a million miles away.

Once the friends are settled into their cottage, they head to the lake, and things start to get a little bit weird. All four characters feel their inhibitions start to slip away, but there are worse things that can happen than that, right? Don’t worry, they do! While sitting around a fire roasting marshmallows, we are introduced to the last character in our story, Mark (Kevin Roach).

Having met him earlier in the day, Cat invites him to join them at the cottage later. A little bit of truth or dare later, Mark and Josh sneak off to make out. Is Mark even gay, or is the lake playing tricks on him too? This leaves the remaining three to have a little party of their own. All three drop acid and things just go from bad to worse, especially for birthday boy Ben. Waking up alone, Josh finds things have changed a great deal since last night’s bonfire.

I’m gonna leave the rest for you to see for yourself. I will tell you this I loved this film. Harvest Lake is a smorgasbord for the eyes and ears, while remaining slightly understated the entire time. This film doesn’t use blood, gore, or nudity to scream “Look at me”, but at the same time, you can’t turn away.

I had extremely high expectations for Harvest Lake and it exceeded them all. Whether it be at a film festival, or in the privacy of your own home on DVD or BluRay, get your ass to see Harvest Lake!

Author: Darrell Marsh

Darrell is a lover of all types of cinema who has been involved in the indie horror community for years. Since starting the Little Nightmares Canadian Horror Shorts Festival Darrell has branched out by helping program the Fright Night Theatre Film Festival and writing for Horror In The Hammer and the revamped TOETAG website. Born and raised in Hamilton Ontario Canada, Darrell is proud to be BTU’s resident Canucklehead.

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