Curiosity. It is something we all have to one degree or another. It’s a human trait, for better or for worse. Tell someone not to do something, and they’ll immediately want to do that exact thing.
So it is with Elizabeth Harvest, played here by the beautiful and talented Abbey Lee (“Mad Max: Fury Road”, “The Neon Demon”). She marries a brilliant man, a Nobel prize winner no less, in Henry, Ciaran Hinds (“First Man“, “Red Sparrow“).
Henry is wealthy, a billionaire, living in a remote, isolated state-of-the-art tech house on top of a hill. He gives Elizabeth everything he thinks she could possibly want; art, jewellery, money, clothes, but it comes with one condition: do not enter a certain room in the basement of the house.
Naturally, that’s exactly what Elizabeth wants to do and, invariably, she does. What she discovers changes everything though and life, as she knows it, will never be the same again.
There are just three other people in Elizabeth Harvest: Claire, Carla Gugino (“San Andreas“, “Watchmen”), first introduced as the housekeeper/chef, Oliver, Matthew Beard (“The Imitation Game”, “The Riot Club”), Henry’s blind son and Logan, Dylan Baker (“Miss Sloane“, “The Good Wife (TV)”), Henry’s only friend and the local cop.
This strange four-some are each harbouring their own secrets, or things they think they know but are afraid to speak out loud. Most of which concern Elizabeth.
The film has echoes of Alex Garland’s Ex Machina, only the machine isn’t a machine, more a Dolly. But the whole setting, this tech-house, the theme of someone not quite sure who they are, or what, all rings familiar.
Written and directed by Sebastian Gutierrez (“Gothika”, “Snakes On A Plane”) the film is exquisitely shot, helped in no uncertain terms by the amazing house the cast find themselves in and the great performances from everyone involved.
For the first hour or so, Gutierrez does well to keep you interested, holding your attention. You think you know what’s going on, and you are probably correct, but it doesn’t mean you’re going to stop watching.
However, what Gutierrez fails to do is keep that interest, that non eye-rolling “Hollywood-ness” at bay long enough to see out the film.
I’m afraid the final run-in is pure cringe as this woman, who has managed to better a man twice her size and who is, by her own admission, vastly intellectually superior, then gets herself trapped by a blind kid.
I understand the need for this part of the film, it explains a lot about what has been going on, but it feels cheap and tacked-on which is a shame given everything that has gone before.
Elizabeth Harvest should have been a much, much better movie than it finishes being. Both Lee and Gugino are superb and Hinds is deeply menacing.
But the film is ruined by the eye-rolling inducing final act as this woman, who has, up until now, been getting stronger and stronger, suddenly turns into every woman from a nineties horror flick and loses all her common sense. What a waste of an otherwise fantastic premise and great first acts.
1st April 2019
THE QUICK SELL
A brilliant man marries a beautiful woman and shows her his home, stating that it's all hers - except a room she can't enter.