Newlywed Elizabeth (Abbey Lee) arrives with her brilliant scientist husband Henry (Ciarán Hinds) at his magnificent estate, where he wows her with lavish dinners and a dazzling tour of the property. The house staff Claire (Carla Gugino) and Oliver (Matthew Beard) treat her deferentially but she can’t shake the feeling something is off. Henry explains that everything in his world now belongs to her, all is for her to play in – all except for a locked-off room he forbids her from entering. When he goes away for business, Elizabeth decides to investigate.
From writer/director Sebastian Gutierrez comes a story of replication that is surprisingly unique. Starring the always debonair Ciarán Hinds and model-turned-actress Abbey Lee, along with the talents of Carla Gugino, Matthew Beard, and Dylan Baker, Elizabeth Harvest tells the story of Elizabeth and Henry—newlyweds honeymooning at Henry’s lavish mansion, complete with servants, banquets, and everything the beautiful, young bride could ever want. Elizabeth has full access to every magnificent room, complete with all the clothing, jewelry, wine, and whatever other luxuries her heart may desire.
The catch? In a very Brothers Grimm/Disney/Genesis fashion, Henry informs Elizabeth that everything the light touches belongs to her, but she is forbidden from entering a singular room. Of course, as soon as Henry leaves on a quick business trip, Elizabeth has no choice but to take a bite of that apple, her curiosity a metaphorical serpent whispering common plot tropes.
The film definitely has a very unique feel about it, like I was watching a movie that was a huge hit back in the 80s. The score, the dialogue, that characters—a lot of it felt like Gutierrez was paying homage to those mystery/thrillers from decades past. Whether that was intentional or not, I have no idea. The returning detective and constant misdirection reminded me a bit of Sleuth (1972 or 2007).
One can infer from the title word “harvest” accompanied by a human name that the film probably has something to do with cloning (or perhaps or organ “harvesting”), an observation quickly confirmed by any and every synopsis available. While most definitely a film about cloning and the ethics thereof, Elizabeth Harvest also isn’t. There’s a lot that one can read into without dealing with the surface issues, which play second fiddle to the substance of the film—the relationship between choice and consequence. The film constantly sheds its skin, evolving and changing into something new and different with each passing act, but holding true to the “choice and consequence” theme that is rife within the dialogue.
There are then the ethical and moral issues that are never directly addressed but subliminally hinted at through the lust, nudity, jealousy, and violence of the film. There are many to pick from; the perfect wife, obedience, creating a subservient partner, the objectivity of woman, and the female form. Speaking of the female form, the film does not hold back when showing off the form of Lee, who is both the protagonist and the victim, the element of both desire and obsession. While Lee completely justifies her ability as an actress, the standout role for me was Matthew Beard’s Oliver. I hate to draw comparisons when unnecessary, but Beard was an uncanny Jude Law doppelganger, both in look and manner.
The last act really tries to push the envelope, twisting the narrative and trying hard to be unpredictable—and for the most part, succeeding. As the credits began to fall, I found myself questioning whether or not I’d actually enjoyed the film. It was a decent story well told, a great casting, a good soundtrack, wonderful cinematography with a heavy focus on Lee’s physical beauty, and some good “food for thought” moments that actually had me jot down a clever quote or two…all the boxes had pretty much been checked. I think that—in the end—there was no one I could root for or sympathize with. This was a dark, morbid story that revolved around a group of dark, morbid characters. I was never scared or shocked, never cheering on the hero or the monster, never…invested. Technically, it’s a great film. Like a clone though, it lacks soul. Thanks for reading and as always, stay sordid. Trailer and poster below.
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