Harvest of Fear (2006)

Starring Ryan Deal, Carrie Finklea, Justin Ament, Don Alder, Thomas Nabhan, Curt Hanson

Directed by Brad Goodman <!– zoom:/img/Reviews/ –>

In the first five minutes of Harvest of Fear, a topless girl runs for her life through the woods being chased by a masked knife-wielding slasher that has just killed her boyfriend. Believing she’s given the psycho the slip, she comes to a stop and looks around for any signs of the pursuing maniac. After nearly half a minute of just standing there and looking around, the killer finally pops up behind her and finishes her off.

At the fifteen minute mark, a couple out are parked out on lover’s lane next to the woods for a little boozing and sex. The masked knife-wielding maniac shows up and cuts their throats.

About an hour in, a young woman rolls over in bed only to discover the person in bed with her is the masked knife-wielding maniac, who proceeds to bludgeon her to death. She suddenly wakes up and realizes it was all a dream. She gets out of bed, goes to the restroom to compose herself, climbs back into bed, and, sure enough, her nightmare happens for real.

If the description of these three scenes doesn’t tell you everything you need to know about the lack of imagination that went into making Harvest of Fear then I don’t know what to tell you. It’s a slasher movie in the most generic sense of the word. This is the sort of slasher movie that can only appeal to those that have never actually seen a slasher movie before. Harvest of Fear doesn’t have a single original idea of its own and the killings are all done in as routine a manner as possible.

Set at the small town of Devil’s Lake… How come horror movies like this almost always occur at someplace with a name that implies a sense of doom like Devil’s Lake? You never see a movie like this set at someplace named Fluffy Bunny Falls or Snuggily Junction. Heck, the lover’s lane in the movie is known as Harlot’s Point because I guess calling it Whore Corner wasn’t subtle enough.

Where was I? Oh, yeah. The small town of Devil’s Lake is preparing for the annual Harvest Fest, their version of Spring Break, only in the fall, when college kids descend on the town to celebrate before finals, and by celebrate I mean wear masks, get drunk, and have sex. Although it would be a terrible blow for local tourism, one cannot argue that this would not be a perfect occasion for a mask wearing psychopath to go on a killing spree.

Devil’s Lake also has a dark past. A dozen kids were slaughtered there 20 years earlier. Wally, the creepy town dimwit, was arrested for the crimes but committed suicide the day of his trial. The locals are still divided into those that think Wally was innocent and those that feel he and his family was responsible for the massacre. This perhaps explains why the remaining members of Wally’s white trash family continue to sit on the porch all day waiting for the cops to show up so they can taunt the police about how the new series of murders should prove Wally wasn’t guilty and they all pretty much have it coming to them for what they did to the guy.

Young Billy has come to Devil’s Lake for an internship. I think he’s a med student. I don’t remember, not that it matters anyway. The reason he chose Devil’s Lake for his internship is because his dad worked there 20 years earlier when the last series of killings occurred. He immediately takes a liking to the nubile Stacy, whose ex-boyfriend Jake is a cop. Despite cheating on her with a sorority girl, Jake’s a super possessive hot head and seeks to get back together with Stacy, who wants absolutely nothing to do with him. Whenever Billy and Stacy are making goo goo eyes at one another you can count on Jake to show up and bark some profanity-laced threats Billy’s way.

Less than halfway through the film I already had the killer’s identity figured out, although I wasn’t entirely sure because I had it down to two characters. One had obvious motivations that just seemed too obvious, but given how little imagination went into making the film I figured their might be an outside chance they make this person the killer. The other, the one I had pegged early on as the killer, is the one you’re not supposed to suspect is the killer which is why the big twist at the end will be that this person is the killer. Since I’ve seen Scream and I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, I easily predicted the killer’s identity and the surprise twist ending. I’m willing to bet the majority of people watching Harvest of Fear will be able to do so as well.

Harvest of Fear’s slasher runs around in a hooded sweatshirt and a scary face mask that looks suitably generic for a slasher flick as generic as this. I suspect even hardcore slasher movie fans will be bored stupid by this one since even the kills are done in as generic a manner as possible. The killer’s modus operandi consists of either slashing throats or stabbing through the heart with a rather generic looking knife. Again, it’s like this movie was made for people that have never seen a slasher movie before. Not even an attractive cast can save Harvest of Fear from being anything but a generic bore. How many times have I’ve used the word “generic” to describe this film?

An odd footnote to this one: despite just getting released to DVD, Harvest of Fear was actually made several years ago. The makers of Harvest of Fear would go on to make a sequel that was actually more of a remake since the focus of the film centers on roughly the same set of characters including one that was seen getting killed in this film. Entitled Path of Evil, it got released to DVD late last year by a completely different distributor. As generic as Harvest of Fear was, everything I’ve read about Path of Evil indicates it’s a slightly better film although as blatant a Halloween copycat as you’re likely to ever see. I have no intention of ever sitting through that one. However, if the makers of it decide they’d like to remake the same movie again with as little originality as the other two then I’d like to offer a few potential titles that just scream generic horror:

Festival of Death
Time of Doom
Night of Horror
Blood of Terror
More of Same

0 ½ out of 5

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Jon Condit

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