29th Jul2020

‘Gothic Harvest’ Review

by Chris Cummings

Stars: Bill Moseley, Lin Shaye, Sofia Mattsson, Ashton Leigh, Mary Alice Risener, Tanyell Waivers, Ashley Hamilton, Yohance Myles, Abbie Gayle, Ciara Rizzo, Ashton DeGroot, Kyler Porche | Written by Chris Kobin | Directed by Ashley Hamilton

Gothic Harvest is written by Chris Kobin (2001 Maniacs) and directed by Ashley Hamilton who has appeared as an actor in films like Iron Man 3, but makes his directorial debut here. It tells the tale of four friends who head off to NOLA for some “fun times” but wind up in the presence of a peculiar New Orleans family who are plagued by a voodoo curse. Poor bastards.

The cast intrigued me immediately with horror mainstays like Bill Moseley (The Devil’s Rejects, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2) and Lin Shaye (Insidious) on board, and a whole load of other acting talents, many of whom do a good job here. The problem here is, however, the tired cliches it approaches time and again. New Orleans, as we know, is often used in Anne Rice-esque vampire stories, we’ve seen movies of horror masquerades and blood-suckers set in the French Quarter, we’ve seen voodoo priests wander the gothic architecture of New Orleans pathways. It’s nothing new, and Gothic Harvest goes to that well with nothing in its back pocket to really change things up.

The screenplay is lacking sadly, and the actors, some of whom, like Shaye and Moseley for instance, could have shone with better material. Sadly, they don’t really, although I did like the cringe-worthy nature of the detective (Detective Hollis) that Moseley portrays, bringing a silliness to the film that thankfully gave is a burst of life, but that’s not enough to drag this film out of the muddy waters. Shaye is good, but we know her capabilities and I felt like she didn’t get a chance to really dig her heels and teeth into this role. Maybe that’s just me.

Exploring the family and the reasons they are cursed, the story is something of a shattered mirror, splicing together bits and pieces in a way that felt disjointed to me, not really flowing easily, nor bringing any real horror elements to the table. If it had given at least an intense and creepy atmosphere then I would have been more into this, but this isn’t scary or even that interesting, and it’s only the performances from the cast that keep it from being a completely drab experience. It’s a stereotypical postcard of New Orleans as a Gothic curiosity, but it sadly fell flat for me by not going deeper into that in more unique and vivid ways. Come for Moseley, Shaye and some of the other actors, stay for… as long as you can remain interested.

** 2/5

Gothic Harvest is out now on DVD from Cinedigm in the US; a future UK release is scheduled from High Fliers Films.

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