Elizabeth Harvest (2018)

Newly married Elizabeth and Henry arrive at home to a decadent house where he woos her. As time goes by, she meets the house staff and becomes curious of her surroundings and husband. Being locked out of a single room raises her curiosity until she decides to investigate.

Writer/director Sebastian Gutierrez creates a sort of fairytale here with definite nods to Bluebeard and his forbidden room while mixing an odd romance with scientific research, creating a believable sci-fi that connects to viewer through its lead. The writing for Elizabeth Harvest is strong with an attention to details that shows particularly in how the science side of the fiction is approached. The film could easily have become a jumbled mess, but this attention to detail in the script paired with the careful direction keep the film moving forward while also keeping the storylines and characters easily understood even with the complex science being thrown at the viewer.

The cast for these characters is fairly small with only a handful of them showing up throughout the film. In the titular character of Elizabeth, Abbey Lee is mesmerizing, constantly pulling the viewer’s attention to her both because of her look and because of how she subtly adapts her acting and her presence to the ever changing situation she is in. Playing her new husband, Henry, is Ciaran Hinds who starts off a touch creepy yet charming and ramps up the vibes on one side as the film advances. His performance is low-key powerful, proving that a slient, strong type can be an impressive presence even with few words. Here he goes from caring to scary fairly quickly, or is he both at the same time, and quite effectively. Playing Claire, one of the house staff members, is Carla Gugino who steals more than one scene with her usual natural charm and acting ability. Here she proves herself, once again, to be a rock for the story and other actors to lean on. Her character is one that is layered, hiding something, and she takes this and goes with it, giving the type of attitude and performance that are magnetic for the viewer and par for the course for her fans. She’s fun and fascinating to watch, something that usual for her and comes together great in this film with Abbey Lee’s mesmerizing performance bringing a sort of magic between the two of them. The other two cast members, Matthew Beard as Oliver and Dylan Baker as Logan, round out the cast nicely, giving performances that are right on point for the film.

Elizabeth Harvest is a carefully crafted film on all fronts and it shows in a visual manner in all scenes and images. The cinematography by Cale Finot beautifully frames each sequence including just the right amount of scenery, creating tableaux almost here and there throughout the film. The hues are chosen for mood and effect with a particular attention to blues at the start of the story and some red imbuing a nightmare sequence with dread thus creating emotional cues as well as story support. This works hand in hand with the editing by Matt Mayer who puts all of this together in a way that creates a rhythm, a sort of breathing for the story.

This is supported by art direction by Francisco Arbelaez, set decoration by Juliana Barreto Barreto, and costume design by Camila Olarte all coming together to create a complete, cohesive look which then adds to the general effect of the film. All of these departments clearly paid attention to details and to each other’s work, the film thus looks richer, more lush, and it all adds to the adult fairytale feel.

Elizabeth Harvest is a moody fairytale of a film with striking visuals and strong performances. It’s a slow, at first, story that is worth watching develop to see where it all goes. The story and visual style, in parts, owe a good deal to the Bluebeard tale while also becoming their own things, something that is appealing and highly enjoyable here. While the story and film are dark, they end on a hopeful note while no actual fairytale endings that modern day stories have made the norm, but it makes sense after the levels of insanity and hellish discoveries discovered by the lead, wrapping up a dark tale with a little bit of light.