PRIME TIME: a little Thanksgiving horror, a little Christmas horror

While I await a deluge of new Halloween horror flicks for the season, it’s time to jump ahead a few holidays with two I found on Amazon Prime. The score positions on my holiday horror page, but will they make the season dark?

THE YEARLY HARVEST (2017)

I’m doing this backwards to save the best for last, so we shall cover Christmas before Thanksgiving.

The Yearly Harvest has some unique concepts…drawn out for 120 minutes…yet none of them ever fully drawn. I’ll say off the bat that prolific indie horror director Ryan Callaway knows how to establish a great frightening scene and deliver a jump scare. There are plenty of them here, I just wish they had been closer together in maybe 80 minutes rather than two hours.

Seriously, any indie director should put the brakes on when their film is “post-editing” and still runs two hours long. Either that or reconsider turning your story into a book instead. The long stretches of exposition are more digestible in novel form.

Anyway, the plot has a young reporter come to a small town that seems to be the hub of the origin of many Christmas legends and traditions…yet no one celebrates the holiday or hangs decorations.

I love this plot. There was so much that could be done with it, especially when you have 120 minutes at your disposal. Unfortunately, The Yearly Harvest plods along and never quite focuses enough to deliver a clear story or bring to life any distinct, horror-tinged Christmas folk legends.

There’s much more heard than seen as the reporter teams up with a private investigator and they do a whole lot of researching and investigating, which leads to a series of anecdotal stories that never come to fruition on the screen.

However, like I said, several great horror moments are buried within the film if you stick with it. And although the whole point is that the town doesn’t celebrate the holiday, the main characters eventually do, so there is some Christmas spirit to be found here before all is said and done.

DON’T LOOK (2018)

Not only does Luciana Faulhaber direct, get partial writing credits, and appear in this Thanksgiving backwoods slasher, but in her beautifully brief 71-minute directorial debut, she nails the genre like few indie directors can these days.

I don’t know if Luciana saved up big time, got some great crowdfunding, knows the right rich people, or just made the most of a small budget, but this is the most satisfying no nonsense, practical effects slashers I’ve seen in ages.

A group of friends comes to a cabin in the woods for Thanksgiving and then we get everything we want from a straightforward slasher. There are some gruesome and ominous signs that everything isn’t right.

There’s a creepy confrontation with locals. There’s just enough character development. There’s a killer in a mask. And loads of unapologetic sex offer up both man butt and woman boob.

And there are intense, brutal kill scenes and chase scenes that are both gritty yet polished at the same time.

There’s even a gay guy who has the guts to try to play the hero, landing this one on my die, gay guy, die! page. I highly recommend this one to all you boys, bears, and other beasts that love slashers.

About Daniel

I am the author of the horror anthologies CLOSET MONSTERS: ZOMBIED OUT AND TALES OF GOTHROTICA and HORNY DEVILS, and the horror novels COMBUSTION and NO PLACE FOR LITTLE ONES. I am also the founder of BOYS, BEARS & SCARES, a facebook page for gay male horror fans! Check it out and like it at www.facebook.com/BoysBearsandScares.
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