October 15, 2019 Gothic Harvest (Movie Review)
Absinthe, vampires, and Mardi Gras cast a seductive spell in Gothic Harvest, a new Horror offering starring Lin Shaye and Bill Moseley. Cinedigm and Ascension Media deliver the film to On Demand and Digital just in time for Halloween, on Tuesday, October 15th, 2019. A physical DVD release is set to follow on Tuesday, November 5th.
Four college friends—mother hen Benay (Ashton Leigh: The Act series, Ambitions series), lusty Hope (Abbie Gayle: Jack Reacher: Never Go Back 2016, Preacher series), sassy Katie (Tanyell Waivers: Ma 2019, The Demonologist 2019), and Tina (Mary Alice Risener: Scream Queens series, The Domestics 2018), who loves older men—head to New Orleans for some party time. While there, Hope meets and seduces a gentleman named Gar (Ashley Hamilton: Beethoven’s 2nd 1993, Iron Man 3 2013) and then goes missing.
With the help of the bizarre Detective Hollis (Moseley: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 1986, The Devil’s Rejects 2005), the three friends will go in search of Hope. What they will find is a quirky Southern family—matriarch Griselda (Shaye: Insidious 2010, Insidious: The Last Key 2018), seductress Amelia (Sofia Mattsson: Becoming Bond documentary 2017, General Hospital series), stately Justice (Thomas Francis Murphy: 12 Years a Slave 2013, The Walking Dead series), and childlike Dolly (Ciara Rizzo: SKAM Austin series)—plagued by a centuries-old voodoo curse. But what role will the groups’ arrival play in the family’s future?
Clocking in at 82 minutes, Gothic Harvest is a directorial debut for Actor Hamilton and was written by Chris Kobin (Hood of Horror 2006, Flipping Vegas series). It also features the acting talents of an extensive cast that includes Yohance Myles (Into the Badlands series, Containment series), Carol Sutton (Steel Magnolias 1989, Ray 2004), Ashton DeGroot (Sun Records series, Road Less Traveled TV movie 2017), Gigi Zumbado (Pitch Perfect 2 2015, Tone-Deaf 2019), Kyler Porche (NCIS: New Orleans series, Assimilate 2019), Janee Michelle (Tiger Cage 1974, When the Bough Breaks 2016), LaShekia Armand, Jeff Mullins, and more.
Billed as a Horror film, Gothic Harvest utilizes the tried-and-true cliches of vampires, voodoo, and New Orleans to set a tale that is an amalgamation of genres and plays out more like a Thriller-Drama. In other words, this is more the story of a group of girls who go out drinking and lose their friend to a casual fling that, as chance would have it, is a man from a cursed family. The film presents a myriad of angles to its largely banal screenplay, focusing more on its exceptional actors and providing them with moments to shine in their quirky roles.
In this, Moseley and Shaye lead the pack. Both magnificent talents, they are presented with two very different characters—a completely off kilter cop who has some truly awkward moments, and an eerily likable matriarch in a wheelchair. In his role, Moseley goes for the comedic bent and injects some zest into the film. In an intentionally cringe-worthy scene inside a pick-up truck, he spouts off bad pick-up lines and laughs at his own ridiculousness. It is his light-hearted approach to portraying the world’s least believable, Pantera-loving cop—and perhaps the most likable since Paul Blart—that often keeps Gothic Harvest from feeling a bit too stiff and serious.
Conversely, Shaye delivers an intensity in her role that provides the impetus for a truly moving soliloquy on the torture of immortality. A grand, elegant Southern belle, Shaye anchors the more significant moments of the film with her gravity and flawless performance.
But Gothic Harvest is a film that is peppered with some wonderful acting from its bit actors, such as Michelle as infamous voodoo queen Marie Laveau. Completely over-the-top and bespelling (pun intended), she rivals Bette Midler’s delightful performance in 1993’s Hocus Pocus—though she’s only on screen for a matter of minutes. Receiving much more screen time in his role, one cannot overlook the talents of Myles, whose authentic delivery of Lafitte provides an important piece in this centuries-old puzzle.
Beyond all of this, Gothic Harvest is a pretty simple film that does not overreach or attempt to delve into bold new territory. Instead, the flick understands its limitations and sticks to placing a spotlight on its exceptional acting talents, allowing them to do what they do best. Not remotely scary but also not cheesy, this is a Horror offering that sits comfortably in the middle of 2019’s offerings—worthwhile if you love the genre, Moseley and Shaye, but probably not going to blow your popcorn out of its bowl. For this, Cryptic Rock give Gothic Harvest 3 of 5 stars.