The Blood Harvest (2016)
The Blood Harvest is a horror movie from Northern Ireland that combines serial killer and supernatural creature genres... then goes somewhere completely unexpected.
The film starts with a man in a strange mask brutally killing a woman. And when I say brutal I mean it; Clarke's direction and editing help to bring out the raw fear. The same is true of the rest of the film; there's not a lot of explicit gore, but the way the killings are staged is visceral and disturbing. I found some of the scenes difficult to watch, which I mean as a compliment.
When the body is discovered we're introduced to our main character, police detective Jack (Robert Render). This is just the latest in a string of similar murders and Jack has a theory. However his theory involves the supernatural, which goes down very badly with his superiors. So much so that he's fired.
Fast forward nine months and there have now been a total of 39 - yes, 39 - murders in the area. Jack is working on the case unofficially with his ex-partner Hatcher (Jean-Paul Van der Velde) and has refined his bizarre theory further. After the latest murder he goes to investigate what he thinks might be the killer's lair.
The Blood Harvest is a very powerful film which combines the brutality of the murders with some very stylish direction and a pleasantly high degree of weirdness. Clarke's direction is excellent gives a very classy feel to what could have been a run-of-the-mill slasher. He builds tension well and holds interest in what's going on.
Acting is also generally good. Render is excellent as the cop obsessed with solving the case. The supporting cast do a good job, especially the victims who are very believable. I felt Van der Velde was a little wooden, but that might have been a deliberate character trait.
It all has the potential to make a great film, what lets it down a bit is the story. For a start there are plot holes. After that many murders in a small area, would the case really be left to a couple of local detectives? And I doubt anyone would go jogging alone under those circumstances. There are other, bigger problems with the plot that I can't reveal because they would be a massive spoilers.
Eventually we learn what's going on - and I didn't like it. Full marks to Clarke for trying to do something different, but I'm not convinced it was successful. I might have bought into it more if the truth had been hinted at slowly rather than dropped on us in a big infodump.
The very end is a little strange as well, but I'm guessing that this was meant as a reference to Northern Ireland's troubled past.
So the script could have done with some work. That aside, The Blood Harvest is an interesting, powerful movie that looks a lot better than its minuscule budget.