Elizabeth Harvest does run a bit too long. Still, with its feel, style, and horror, it is definitely worth your time. Also, Carla Gugino is a revelation!
While Elizabeth Harvest could’ve benefited from losing 15 minutes or so, it does offer something new. Sure, the sci-fi horror thriller isn’t without issues, but it’s impressive to watch.
Part of this is due to the style and vibe, which has been borrowed from some of the greats like Dario Argento and Brian de Palma. The latter is more in regards to storytelling, while Argento’s overall style is easy to see.
Also, Elizabeth Harvest has been compared to Ex Machina by Alex Garland (Annihilation), which is an obvious comparison for some reasons. However, this movie is nowhere near as complete as Ex Machina.
Actors having fun
It seems like the storyline in Elizabeth Harvest offers plenty for its actors to have fun with. Every single character gets to play out different areas of their respective personality. No one is inherently good or bad.
Basically, it’s all about choice and reasoning. Much like in real life.
For me, it’s Carla Gugino (Gerald’s Game) who gives the best performance. Of course, I might be biased since I tend to like her in most things. And she did just give a great performance in the Netflix adaptation of Stephen King’s Gerald’s Game.
However, Ciarán Hinds (The Terror) and Matthew Beard (The Imitation Game) also give remarkable performances. Especially Hinds is breathtaking in his intensity.
Abbey Lee (The Neon Demon) has the actual lead role of the protagonist but is also the weakest link in this strong cast. Especially in the earlier scenes.
But to be fair, she is supposed to act like a vapid young girl. So you can’t really blame her for doing exactly this. Towards the end, her scenes become more and more intense and I certainly feel like she grows with her character.
A very interesting writer-director
All these (and more of his films) have included Carla Gugino, which isn’t so strange since they are actually a couple in real life.
While Sebastian Gutierrez now directs his own scripts, he also wrote scripts for others to direct in the past. He wrote the script for the Halle Berry horror movie Gothika (2003) and the US remake of The Eye (2008). The remake of the Hong Kong and Singapore produced horror movie starred Jessica Alba.
In other words, he’s used to working with strong female leads and Elizabeth Harvest is no exception. Even if the supporting character played by Carla Gugino steals scenes from the starring role.
However, he also co-wrote the screenplay for the cult horror-comedy Snakes of a Plane, so he’s quite diverse.
Watch out for Sebastian Gutierrez
Clearly, Sebastian Gutierrez – the writer and director of Elizabeth Harvest – has a strong sense of style. He picks one and sticks with it. I have to admire that and also, I do enjoy watching a movie where I’m introduced to a world in a certain style.
However, I do look forward to seeing Gutierrez finding a style all of his own. As mentioned earlier, inspiration from both Dario Argento and Brian de Palma along with Alex Garland is obvious. Still, it doesn’t feel like a movie made by any of these people, so Sebastian Gutierrez has ideas of his own as well.
Now we just need a movie where this becomes even more apparent. Though the very bold and insisting heavy color palette could use a smidge (at least) more subtlety.
Hopefully, he’ll make a brilliant movie with Carla Gugino in the lead next and blow our minds. They certainly do work very well together!
Elizabeth Harvest opens in theaters on August 10, 2018.
Director/Writor: Sebastian Gutierrez
Cast: Abbey Lee, Carla Gugino, Ciaran Hinds, Matthew Beard, Dylan Baker
Newlywed Elizabeth (Abbey Lee) arrives with her brilliant scientist husband Henry (Ciaran Hinds) to 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), treats 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 and finds she may not be who she thinks she is at all.