Writer Chris Kobin’s and director Ashley Hamilton’s Gothic Harvest is proof that attaching recognizable names to a project does not a good film make…
…Obviously, this isn’t new news, just check out my review for Devil’s Revenge for further proof. It is always disappointing though. In this case we have the ever-fascinating, Bill Mosely (The Devil’s Rejects) as the pot-stealing, Detective Hollis, and the perpetually lovely Lin Shaye (Insidious) as the wheelchair bound, Griselda. Both are doing double duty as actors and Associate Producers. For those of you that don’t know, an Associate Producer (AP for you professionals out there) assists with details like writing and editing. Two things that, well, never quite come together here.
Gothic Harvest suffers from an identity crisis, one of the more distracting details for me. It doesn’t know if it wants to be a heavy metal video, a modern day teen-angst film (yes, I’m aware these are college girls), a Texas Chainsaw Massacre wannabe, or some not-quite-there offshoot of Iain Softley’s fantastic bayou-horror, The Skeleton Key (2005).
There are some serious WTF editing choices throughout. In one scene, Ashley Hamilton’s (Iron Man 3) charmer, Gargol, sweet-talks Hope (Abbie Gayle, Preacher) into his car to head to his place for more of his homemade brew (and maybe hopefully some sex). Now mind you, this immediately follows a previous scene where Hope’s friends agree to go in search for any party member that has been out of sight for sixty seconds or longer. Hope’s “friends” go on to make yet another dancing music video, only this time fake drunk, and completely ignore the fact that Hope has just left the bar with a complete stranger.
Left with a stranger. In New Orleans. During Mardi Gras.
Fair enough, this is a horror flick after all, so some lack of intelligence is expected—permitted even.
Now, this is where Gothic’s editing gets into real what-the-fuck-just-happened territory. Hope leaves with a man she just met during Mardi Gras without telling her friends. So, either she’s never watched a horror movie, or she is just a really trusting individual, or she’s just plain stupid. Let’s go with stupid. Outside, she hops into Gargol’s little red beater car— Okay, hold up a minute. This guy is both a looker and a charmer (seriously, Hamilton was once married to Shannen Doherty and Angie Everhart—respect) and also happens to be somewhere around two hundred years old, and he drives a little two-door beater, complete with douchebag flip-up lights? In fairness, Gargol does state “it’s a loner,” but I call BS.
Anyway, one quick, nauseating cut-scene later (are there long-running highways in New Orleans near the French Quarter?), and we watch as Gargol and Hope pull up to his darkened home, where you just know—at this point because there is so much stupid involved—that something bad is about to go down. Also, Hope has been alive now for what, thirty minutes? I’m sure we can all agree, that’s about twenty minutes too long for the insatiable-sex-girl in a horror film. But I digress.
Regardless, I was not prepared for what happened next. For real, I was ready for some Tom Savini twisted, in-my-face shit to go down. Everything leading up to this screamed psycho killer!
Horror formula 101:
Drunk Girl + Guy + Dark House = Bring on the boobies!
And cut to?!? Hope sitting down to have a lovely meal with Gargol’s whacked-out family.
Um, wait a minute? What the hell just happened? Did I accidently hit fast-forward? Did my streaming just skip ahead? Rewind for confirmation. Nope. Just another randomly edited scene that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.
Look, Gargol has ulterior motives, I get it and never questioned that aspect, but how on Earth did we just go from driving home to get booze (and sex) to Hope sitting down at a table with Gargol’s entire family? What. The. Actual. Fuck?
And this is just one of many screen-halting, mind-numbingly bad editing choices made throughout Gothic Harvest that left me wondering just what kind of AP’ing Mosely and Shaye, both highly respected names in the horror-world, did. Surely one of them had to look at the initial cut of the film and notice that something was funny—and it wasn’t last night’s Chinese food, right? Right?
I’ve said before, and I’ll say it again: I am not a director and have never made a film. So therefore, I won’t pretend to know what goes into making one, but holy hell, how are details like this allowed to slip by? How do such perplexing editing choices make it to final cut?
It’s not just the editing either. Here’s a writing example of inconsistency for you, this one involving a conversation between Detective Hollis and Benay (Ashton Leigh).
Benay: Are you a real cop?
Hollis, having just stole pot from some no-name: Yeah, undercover.
Benay: Do you handle, bar situations?
Hollis: Depends on who’s buying. (Cute, Bill Mosely smile. Seriously, this guy is so lovable, how was he so believable as Ottis Driftwood?)
Benay: Bar… drunk friend… not answering phone… yatta, yatta, yatta…
Hollis, all serious: Wow, that’s the first time I heard that during Mardi Gras… You three jealous cause she’s getting laid an you’re not? (shortened for time)
Benay: But she knows we’re leaving tomorrow!
Hollis: If you don’t find your friend by tomorrow, why don’t you look me up … Why don’t I meet you there (at the bar they’ve been at) tomorrow night, say 8 o’clock?
Benay: Okay, okay.
Um, hold up a minute. One could be forgiven for thinking Hollis is on whatever’s going on (spoiler: he’s not) and playing dumb, but what the hell happened to the girl’s sixty second rule that was literally just established like five minutes ago? And didn’t you just state you leave tomorrow? Can someone please explain to me how Hollis acknowledges this fact and then goes on to ask them to meet him at 8 o’clock at the same bar the following night? Were you not just listening to what she said, Hollis???
And Benay’s “okay, okay”? Excuse me, but your fucking friend is missing in New Orleans!!! The fuck kind of friend are you? Where’s your sense of urgency!?! Are you not worried, at the very least, of making your flight on time tomorrow!?!
Whoa… Sorry about that. I lost myself in the insane for a moment.
Tack on some makeshift voodoo, Sophia Mattsson’s odd aversion to playing the part of her character’s lesbian tendencies, a weird perv, a dead, chicken-claw giving black guy, an evil white family, stereotypes galore, eye-rolling acting, and you begin to wonder why you even bother to watch this stuff. There’s nothing worthwhile going on here, and Mosely and Shaye are here for name purposes only. Nothing more.
I can’t help but think that somewhere, buried deep within all this nonsense, is a real film with some good potential—something a healthy dose of (re)editing would bring out. As it stands, though, Gothic Harvest is a harvest best left in the ground.
By Daniel Boucher