Elizabeth Harvest is a science fiction reimagining of the French folktale of Bluebeard, in which a violent nobleman in the habit of murdering his wives is confront by a new wife trying to avoid the fate of her predecessors.
“Nothing is as it seems in this brain-bending plunge into our darkest desires. Elizabeth (Abbey Lee). She is a beautiful young newlyw, arrives at the palatial estate of her brilliant scientist husband Henry (Ciarán Hinds). Ensconce in modernist luxury with an obedient—if slightly unsettling—house staff (Carla Gugino and Matthew Beard). She has seemingly everything she could want.
But one mystery tantalizes her: what is behind the lock door to Henry’s laboratory that he has forbidden her to enter? When an inquisitive Elizabeth dares to find out. Everything she thought she knew about her husband—and about herself—will change. Elizabeth Harvest casts a spell of creeping Gothic menace. That as it unravels a disturbing tale of identity, obsession, and twiste love.
Elizabeth Harvest is a 2018 American science fiction horror film written, produce and directed by Sebastian Gutierrez (Rise: Blood Hunter; writer of Snakes on a Plane; The Eye; Gothika).
The movie stars Abbey Lee, Carla Gugino, Ciarán Hinds, Matthew Beard, and Dylan Baker.
Newlywed Elizabeth (Abbey Lee) arrives with her brilliant scientist husband Henry (Ciarán 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 lock-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…
We open on an eye – Elizabeth Harvest’s eye – newly awaken but taking in her surroundings as if still in a dream, as her romantic voice-over reveals.
A new bride being stolen away to her husband’s “secret world,”
The image of the beautiful Elizabeth (Abbey Lee) in a car being driven by her husband (Ciarán Hinds). That on the edge of a cliff on a lonely mountain road is idyllic only for an instant. But as her voice drops away, the shot expands, recalling the opening credits of Kubrick’s The Shining and an ending that’s anything but happily ever after.
And the fact that, upon carrying his decades younger bride across the threshold. The wealthy older widow scientist Henry (Hinds) gleefully points out out that they’re “participating in a kidnapping ritual,”. That only adds to our sense of foreboding as does the fact that he’s often frame above her in a powerful position as if he’s a teacher ready to scold.
Pulling back from the happy couple to unveil the household staff. That including the cryptic housekeeper Claire (play by the always compelling Carla Gugino) and the loyal, blind, obedient Oliver (Matthew Beard). Venezuelan writer/director Sebastian Gutierrez follows up his allusion to Kubrick with a structural nod to Hitchcock’s Rebecca. That in his sumptuous slow burn spin on the French fairy tale Bluebeard.
Frequently translated to film, it’s a work that even Hitchcock himself couldn’t resist adapting
That with Cary Grant in the lead in Suspicion, which studio head David O. Selznick sanitize in a happy ending which took place on a lonely mountainous road. That could’ve double for the one at the start of this film.
Determine to tell you a story you know both in a way (and within a world) that you don’t. Gutierrez blurs the edges of Gothic romance, science fiction, and suspense in this genre blend experimental effort.
Not interested in making Brides Dead Revisited (sorry, I couldn’t resist), in a progressive change of pace. Our unusual eponymous lead not only fuels the bulk of the increasingly complicate mystery. But is also given more than a fighting chance to take on whatever crosses her path.
Leading her through his labyrinthine estate early on into the film in a sequence that echoes the fairy tale. Henry explains to Elizabeth that much like him. Her thumbprint is the only passkey she’ll need to enter any one of the luxurious rooms on the premises. Before that is, he stresses that the only room she must promise never to go in is the one so bright it gives off a bridal diamond-like glow.
Dazzling her with the sheer amount of jewelry and fashion she now has at her disposal, while Elizabeth is understandably overwhelmed
We’re not only curious as to the origins of their unlikely relationship. But also distract by the suspicious clues that production designer Diana Trujillo, art director Francisco Arbelaez. And set decorator Juliana Barreto Barreto have hidden in plain sight.
Perhaps foreshadowing Henry’s nefarious intentions and the way he sees his bride in the predatory art. That hangs on the wall alongside some of the primal objects litter throughout. Since the film is set in and around one location, it’s intriguing to note the ways in which our relationship. That to the darkly lit rooms evolve over the course of its running time.
Subconsciously linking the brightly lit room to sexual desire, Henry kisses her passionately within range of the warm glow. Told to be “a good girl” by a man old enough to be her father. We know what’s coming even before he turns around as, much like Pandora and the box, when Henry leaves for the day. The mystery room is one place she’s bound to go to “be bad.”
Turning the fairy tale on its head, while of course, the entry to the room places Elizabeth in peril. It also resets the narrative in an ingenious way at the same time by giving the audience (and additionally our viewer surrogate, Elizabeth). That is a startlingly vital clue to a puzzle that will take the rest of the film’s running time to solve.
Rating: R (for bloody violence, graphic nudity, sexuality and some language)
Genre: Mystery & Suspense, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Directed By: Sebastian Gutierrez
Stars: Abbey Lee, Ciarán Hinds, Carla Gugino
Written By: Sebastian Gutierrez
In Theaters: Aug 10, 2018 Limited
On Disc/Streaming: Aug 10, 2018
Runtime: 105 minutes
Studio: IFC Films
CRITIC REVIEWS FOR ELIZABETH HARVEST
A curious amalgam of fairy tale and fever dream, which makes less and less sense as it proceeds but does so with undiminished flair…
It’s not clear where Gutierrez’s interest lies, why this story matters to him, what he’s trying to say.
Gutierrez is ultimately too enamored of his quasi-feminist, visually convulsive upending of damsel myths to let his actors enjoy themselves the way De Palma or Dario Argento would.
Mr. Gutierrez keeps the viewer in the same state of confusion as Elizabeth, but each surprise, paradoxically, makes the movie less and less surprising as a whole.