The Harvest (2013)

To be clear, this movie was initially screened in 2013, but it wasn't seen by the general public until 2015. It wasn't released in theaters, as far as I can tell. Instead, it was released in the current market's version of direct-to-DVD which is video on demand. For some reason, direct to VOD feels like a more respectable way to go.

Michael Shannon is the most recognizable figure in this movie. You may remember him as the misguided FBI official from Boardwalk Empire or (more likely) as the re-imagined Zod in the latest Superman film, Man of Steel. In this movie, his character is more like the FBI guy. He's very wishy-washy, unfocused, and he tries not to confront his problems. He's a sympathetic character to a point, but you can't help but feel more than a little revulsion at the things he allows to go on by sheer lack of will.

His son is suffering from a debilitating and ultimately fatal disease that is not really adequately explained. Michael isn't dealing with it well, and his wife, a doctor played by Samantha Morton, is a frenetic, overprotective, and downright creepy woman who limits everything he does and seems to want to actually eliminate as much fun as possible at all times. She is controlling not just with regard to her child, but she is overbearing with her husband as well. The first time she spoke to him, I wondered how long this marriage would last with an attitude and personality like that.

Enter Natasha Calis as the girl who moves in with her grandparents next door. She's directionless until she meets the son, and then she sets out to make him act like a normal kid, despite the fact that he isn't allowed to go outside, isn't allowed visitors, and generally isn't allowed to have fun. She sneaks in a bunch of times, makes a friendship, and spies on whatever his parents are doing.

Here's the thing. This direct-to-VOD should have been a made-for-TV movie. Specifically, it should have been funded and produced by Lifetime. It's better than most Lifetime movies out there, but this is exactly the kind of movie that should be riding the airwaves of Television For Women.

It's not a particularly bad movie, but it has characters and plot twists that are of the variety that make you hesitantly think about the realism of any of it, and then you sink back into the pudding of, "oh who gives a crap?" Fact is, there are too many plot holes and issues to get all caught up in. The biggest twist is... implausible at best.

Direction was okay
Story was meh
Dialog was unimaginative
Acting was pretty good
Effects were fine

Bottom Line: One of the better Lifetime movies that isn't on Lifetime... yet.

2.0/5

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