Written by: Stephen Lancellotti
Directed by: John McNaughton
When I saw that there was a movie directed by John McNaughton (Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer) and starring Michael Shannon (Boardwalk Empire) I was immediately sure I wanted to review it. I figured it would be dark and unsettling, and it is but for a surprising reason. Ladies and gentlemen I give you the controlling, obsessive, and at times psychotically violent mother as played by Samantha Morton (Synecdoche, New York, Minority Report).
When her terminally ill son Andy (Tahan) meets Maryann (Calis) the new girl in town, and quickly forms a friendship, Katherine (Morton) lets overbearing crazy side come out. She has strict, no-leaving-the-house rules in place and the last thing she wants is some girl making Andy think that there is life outside of his bedroom walls. But Maryann, who is recently orphaned and living in a strange new place, is determined to keep her new friend. She sneaks in through the window, gets him to go outside, and makes him feel truly alive for the first time ever. That all comes to a tension filled ending when Mom finds out.
When Maryann discovers the dark secret Andy’s Mother and Father (Shannon) are hiding, she will stop at nothing to try to help her friend. With her grandfather (Fonda) and grandmother skeptical of the story she has to tell, she is forced to face the prospect of going it alone. She does and the ending is something that has to be seen.
The entire cast is excellent in “The Harvest”. Michael Shannon gives a strong performance as a depressed, unappreciated husband as well as a loving Father. Natasha Calis and Charlie Tahan are both great in their roles as well. I have a feeling that this is just the tip of the iceberg for Calis. She seems to have a ton of talent, and I can easily see her becoming a huge star in the next few years. It is Morton though who does the real heavy lifting here. Not that I didn’t think she was a talented actress, but I had no idea she had this kind of performance in her! She provides so much tension by displaying an underlying fury and a willingness (albeit an insane one) to do ANYTHING for her child. A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G!
“The Harvest” was not exactly what I expected, but that is totally fine by me. It was a well-acted dark drama with plenty of intensity. If you liked “Misery” or “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle” you will most-assuredly enjoy “The Harvest”.