The fairytale Bluebeard never crossed paths with my childhood. However recently, it seemingly pops up quite frequently. Probably the most notable are the films Ex Machina, Crimson Peak, and the aptly titled South Korean thriller Bluebeard. A few others have dabbled in some of the setting and imagery. Elizabeth Harvest coming from IFC films is the latest dalliance with the old tale.
Elizabeth Harvest has a few twists in the story so even if you are aware of the basis, you’ll still have some surprises. It doesn’t take much time to establish the plot and put most of its cards on the table. The film reveals Elizabeth’s (Abbey Lee) nature within the first twenty or so minutes. Doing it this way allows for the rest to be focused on the tension and suspense. If you are familiar with the story, then I think this is the best way to go about the plot. It at least makes it feel new and then can focus on the characters.
Carla Gugino as Claire is the wildcard. We know she’s important, but we are left to wonder what her role in all of this could be. She is fantastic here, pretty much like her characters in others films. Henry (Ciarán Hinds) and Elizabeth also have an unusual and awkward connection. Of course, it makes more and more sense as we learn who they are concerning one another. Overall, the acting was solid.
Having the early reveal does present some issues with pacing. Some scenes become redundant and don’t provide new information to the viewer. Maybe this is why they have Abbey Lee nude throughout much of the movie. The director figures he can distract the audience and have them not realize the film is dragging slightly … it’s certainly not the worst idea a director has tried.
Even with the twists and turns, much of Elizabeth Harvest takes still feels predictable. With the lack of character development, even the more grand discoveries have little impact. Without the redundant scenes, they could have shown more of the character’s backstory.
The technical aspects of the film fairly impressed me. The setting, which was mainly the house, had lots of unusual elements and was set up wonderfully. The cinematography has a large aperture of technical prowess and ingenuity. It thankfully never dips below average and ranges from decent to “Wow that was impressive.” There’s a ton of striking color use as well.
Elizabeth Harvest Overall: 3/5
The story was both intriguing and somewhat predictable. Fans of Ex Machina may want to give this one a look; they might find something else to scratch the Bluebeard based itch. While Elizabeth Harvest had issues, I would still recommend to those that like the single setting thrillers and if you enjoy any of the actors cast.
Elizabeth Harvest is still in select theaters. Amazon has it available to rent, and I’m sure it’ll be coming to more On Demand places soon