Harvest Lake, the latest film from Scott Schirmer (Found), had an early screening at HorrorHound Weekend in Cincinnati on Friday Night. Once again, the director proved that you can make a compelling movie with an ultra low budget if you bring something interesting to the table, and Harvest Lake is…interesting, to say the least.
If you’ve seen Found or Headless (its spinoff, which Schirmer produced) or Brian K. Williams’ Time to Kill (Williams is the DP here), you have an idea of what kind of movie to expect in terms of budget, yet with Harvest Lake, it’s very evident that both filmmakers are becoming more skilled at what they do.
In some ways, Harvest Lake is a traditional horror movie. Young people go to a cabin by a lake and get more out of their getaway than expected. There are also creatures, but that’s pretty much where the traditional elements end.
This isn’t a slasher, and it’s not about a body count or even death. There’s no blood. If that’s what you’re after, just check your expectations at the door. That’s not to say things don’t get gooey. If “make love not war” were the mantra for a horror movie, this would be that horror movie, and that makes it pretty unique. Some will say this isn’t a horror movie at all, but I’m not going to have that debate.
Harvest Lake is about sex, and there’s a lot of it. Still, it’s not what you’re expecting. To say too much would be a disservice, but the premise sees our group of young people go swimming and come out of the water changed. Something living in the water and in the area surrounding it has awakened some primal urges within them, and things get…well, gooey.
In the hands of some, this could be just a forgettable piece of trash cinema, but in the hands of Schirmer, Williams, and co., it’s anything but. The writing (also Schirmer) elevates the material as we spend a good deal of time getting to know the characters – maybe not their complete backstories, but certainly about their sexualities – and given that Harvest Lake is a movie about sexuality, this is highly appropriate.
While the movie is humorous at times, the score provides for a moody and atmospheric tone at others. The creations of The Clockwerk Creature Company (Found, Headless) also go a long way in keeping Harvest Lake entertaining.
This isn’t one of those “hey, look at how 80s this movie looks” movies, which have become increasingly common in recent years (sometimes to an eye-rolling extent). It just reminds you of the days when then-young filmmakers would take their cameras into the woods, put together some creatures, and make a fun movie. I’m not comparing Harvest Lake to The Evil Dead, but it’s the reason I love the original Evil Dead while the remake leaves me relatively cold. It’s about the passion and the DIY spirit, and it’s something Schirmer and his posse have proven they have with both Found and Harvest Lake.
This mentality isn’t for everyone, and that’s fine, but for those who love that stuff, there’s plenty to appreciate here. Ultimately, I came away from the film feeling as though I saw something I hadn’t before, and that is often the primary component I seek in a movie. Harvest Lake also shows that Schirmer isn’t a one-trick Pony. With Found, he had great source material to start from with Todd Rigney’s novel, but this one shows he has some interesting ideas of his own, and it couldn’t be any more different than Found.
Harvest Lake stars Tristan Risk (American Mary, The Editor), Ellie Church (Headless, Time to Kill), Dan Nye (The Legend of Wasco), Jason Crowe (Kill, Granny, Kill!, Volumes of Blood), and Kevin Roach (The Confession of Fred Krueger).
Synopsis, trailer, and poster below.
Vacationing campers fall under the seductive spell of a libidinous, otherworldly presence in the woods. Inhibitions drop and behavior becomes erratic as one of the friends tries to escape the carnal freefall, ultimately bringing him face to face with the source of a mystery that will change his life forever.