Confused? You will be by the time you’ve unscrambled Blood Harvest’s multiple title changes. So…this isn’t a sequel, remake or reboot of 1987 horror film Blood Harvest. The US title was The Ballad of Audrey Earnshaw, originally The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw, and it’s a straight, super-serious genre entry that’s somewhere between hits The Witch and Hereditary in tone. There’s also a healthy dose of The Village, in that while the setting is 1973, it takes place in a Luddite community where everyone lives in a style that looks like 200 years ago.
Pulling together the above information inadvertently exposes the viewer to reviews, which range from adulation to dismissal. This reviewer tends towards the former; Thomas Robert Lee’s film shoots for originality, always a good thing in this genre. Audrey (Jessica Reynolds) is a young girl raised by her mother (Catherine Walker) in secret, safe from the predatory, ignorant men in the nearby village. This means that Audrey is transported around in a box, hardly ideal, and an early flashpoint comes when Audrey takes a toilet break and is spotted by a passing villager. But Audrey’s secret is connected to witchcraft, and when her mother finds herself on the end of mistreatment from the superstitious locals, Audrey takes matters into her own hands.
But Audrey’s revenge is more complex that just some Carrie-style telekinetic rampage; instead she curses the pregnant wife of a local farmer, and her influence seems to rot the crops and keep the fields barren. Lee deserves some credit for keeping things classy; this has an indie edge to it, it’s horror, but not self-referential or jump-scare heavy. Instead, there’s an insidious gloom which envelops proceedings, with good acting, a striking look and occasional, spiky bursts of violence.
Blood Harvest is worth commending to horror addicts; there’s a strong cast including Canadian director Don McKellar, plus Irish veteran Sean McGinley, and while not all the plot-points gel, the narrative tension is maintained until the end. It’s a promising film for all involved, and even if the result isn’t quite satisfying, Blood Harvest delivers the goods in terms of unsettling an audience.
In the UK, Signature Entertainment presents Blood Harvest on DVD and Digital HD 16th November 2020.
Thanks to Signature for access to this title.