Devil's Harvest  - Brian
aka. Don't Go Into the Attic
Director: James Shanks
Starring: Brian Blessed Chris John Julie T. Wallace Lara Clancy
For the past three days (going on four) I’ve been without internet. Mind you, I’m really not complaining. It’s actually been kind of therapeutic not to have that “portal to the world” constantly open; though I’m sure a time will come, very soon, where I will hear something I’m interested in and want to fire up the ol' wiki only to be denied. Case in point: I was watching Devil’s Harvest
the other night, which revolved around an unseen demon of Hell called “Dagon.” Now I was familiar with the Lovecraftian Dagon
, but I wasn’t familiar with the real-world religious mythos surrounding him. Today, thanks to Wikipedia, I now know that he is a Semitic fish-god who has endured in literature for centuries; all Lovecraft did was attempt to explain the existence of this “god” as an actual monster that primitive man (and fish-man) worshiped; if this was, in fact, the same Dagon.
At any rate, analyzing the existence of Dagon is not the point of this review. I’m just explaining the difference in case any of you “weird fiction”
buffs heard the word “Dagon” and got all excited for this movie. If you came for Lovecraftian horror, you will be very disappointed. Consequently, if you came for any kind of horror, you will be very disappointed. I mean it. Nothing happens in this movie for about the first hour, the movie itself is 88 minutes long. Sure, we see a couple innocent bystanders get pulled underneath the water, but you never really see a monster. Not a grizzled hand, no slimy appendage, no red-skinned muscled devil arm, nothing. All the while, the impetus of the story is on a complex love triangle between a young couple, and the male’s former love interest. Meanwhile, Brian Blessed (yes, THE Brian Blessed) is a priest wandering the English countryside for sinister reasons.
Right off the bat, this baffles me. This is Brian Blessed, better known for his role as Augustus in I, Claudius (1976)
or Lord Locksley from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)
. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t list this film in his resume, but I can’t, for the life of me, even begin to figure out how they managed to get him on this project. Maybe James Shanks, himself, made a deal with the devil, but I doubt it because even if that were the case, this movie is about as “hardcore satanic” as Steve Urkel is “gangsta.”
Besides boredom, one of the major reasons I agreed to review this film was because it was of English origin. I am quite fond of British storytelling and pacing, but I can understand how the difference can divide many Americans who view these. It would seem a common trend in British cinema is lots of plot development early on. Perhaps you’ll see some action peppered in-between but nothing starts exploding until a good thirty minutes in. That’s fine by me because I love convincing characters and motivations more than action, but I can understand the argument against. I can also understand why many British critics look upon American moviegoers as needing instant gratification so, really, to each his own.
What one must realize going into Devil’s Harvest
is that you will not see any kind of horrific gore or terrifying scene for the first hour. Even after that preliminary hour, when your mind justifies this belaboring as build-up for something immense, you will find yourself incredibly disappointed. The first hour is literally centered on a complex romance while people are killed by, presumably, Dagon. There are only two real occurrences of this and they all involve people falling out of their boats or getting pulled underwater and not coming back. This kind of thing might have been fine in the 1950’s, but this film was made in 2003, and there should be a little more bang for the buck, British film or not.
It’s tough to target the demographic of this film. It’s very clearly marketed towards “extreme horror fans” as evidenced by the dead-looking woman in a body bag with a pentagram carved into her forehead. However, nothing about the title or imagery on the box is indicative of the kind of monotony one will experience while watching this. I am aware that this film’s original title was called Don’t Go Into The Attic
, which is far more appropriate. Unfortunately, in America, this sounds like a Goosebumps book and therefore wasn’t hardcore enough.
The fact is that what the British do, they do very well, and that happens to be storytelling. Say what you will about how “weird” British fiction is (Torchwood, Doctor Who, Primeval, Life on Mars), but it’s the compelling and intriguing casts that carry these shows. Unfortunately, their success in storytelling is also what makes this one of the worst horror films to hit American shores. The sad truth is that horror audiences don’t give a wooden nickel about character development or logical plot. They want to be shocked, they want gore, and they want gratuitous flesh. This is more of a “thinking man’s” horror movie, but even then, it doesn’t quite work. Some of the characters are admittedly likeable yet complex and out for themselves, which I can applaud, but as a horror movie, this falls in many ways short of its own genre.