And now for something completely different from Scott Schirmer, the man who brought you Found. Actually—beyond the moments of repulsive gore in Found, Harvest Lake is not so different, because both movies rise above simple horror thrills and scares to bring you a narrative much more unsettling.
This erotic sci-if/horror flick is tight, so to speak, beginning with the minimal cast. The five main actors are all veterans of horror (and all quite nice to look at), including many films I’ve blogged about:
Dan Nye (The Legend of Wasco)
Ellie Church (Headless, The Legend of Wasco, Mania)
Kevin Roach (Volumes of Blood, Freddy in the short film The Confession of Fred Kreuger!)
It’s also straightforward yet beautifully eerie in its presentation, as well as being almost Lovecraftian in style. The music alone is as frighteningly seductive as the performances of the actors as their characters fall under some sort of supernatural/alien aphrodisiac by a lake. There’s nothing raunchy here and the movie isn’t played for laughs—it’s a pretty damn sensual exploration of desire.
Cat is having a birthday party for her boyfriend Ben at a cabin in the woods, and brings along their friends Josh and Jennifer. Meeting them there is Cat’s friend Mark. Each character is pretty much dealing with common sex issues to which we can all relate. Cat wants Ben to be more open about sex.
Josh is gay, fresh out of a relationship, and not quite ready to jump back into the dating game or the sex game. Jennifer is single, and suddenly presented with a sexual scenario she’s not comfortable with. And Mark—well, we don’t find out his deal until he arrives and they all start playing a sexual truth or dare game around the campfire.
The group involuntarily lets all inhibitions go as each member falls under the spell of a slimy, oozing life form in the woods. And they begin to get repulsively intimate with it. The sudden shift from seeing pretty people enjoying each other’s bodies to a foreign entity controlling them is so violating to even us as the viewers—it takes the concept of Invasion of the Body Snatchers to a whole different, invasive level.
Possibly the most fascinating part of Harvest Lake is how it distinctly addresses heteronormativity—and its flawed reasoning—in its exploration of human sexuality. Like Invasion of the Body Snatchers, there is one person who resists the temptations, but it’s not the allure of sleep; it’s the promise of snatch.
The gay guy is the one who is naturally immune to the powers of the mysterious presence, which even gives female-to-female attraction a pass and uses it to great advantage to seduce straight men. Only the gay man is an outsider, the defiant one, the one who needs “reparative therapy” to be converted so he’ll fall in line with everyone around him. And yet, in the end, stringent sexual identities are of no relevance when it comes time to be accepted by their maker.
Harvest Lake isn’t about jump scares or offensive exploitation—it’s a film that will creep the hell out of those who are hopelessly devoted to the joys of sex.