Firstly, I just want to say thanks to Co-Directors Martin Sonntag and Kim Sonderholm, for allowing me early access to an online screener of their 19 minute, Body Horror short “Harvest”. It’s a Danish film that follows a deranged surgeon named John (played by Sonderholm himself), who deals in selling organs on the black market. His latest deal went south when the buyer Zarko (played by Slavko Labovic), found damage to the organ. John’s life hangs in the balance, as he has a very small window of time to locate someone with a specific rare blood type and get their organs to the buyer. The film also stars Siff Andersson and Julie Kunz. I’m not sure about the total budget for this one but it’s low, indie film-making that I’d estimate at $3,000 to $5,000, but don’t quote me on that.
Initially, the way I found out about this was through the reputable Dreadcentral.com, who recently did a short write-up on the film. I was pleased with the quick response from Kim and thought it sounded like my kind of gruesome time (haha). The first thing that jumps out at you is the cool poster artwork. It looks as if it’s been hand drawn and that, in of itself is pretty unique. Harvest opens with a young girl walking down a subway tunnel of sorts, where she’s taken from behind and injected with something. I enjoyed the way the opening credits played out being intertwined with sections of the scene. I was surprised to hear such clear audio, given this is a very low-budget film that’s normally an issue. Obviously because the film is in Danish with English subtitles, the dialogue level probably wasn’t as crucial because your just reading.
Kim’s performance as the mad doctor was pretty solid. He did a good job of conveying the desperation of finding a new victim, but on the other side of the coin a couple of the conversations he had didn’t quite express the fear one might be going through in this situation. Although, who knows how long he’s been in the business for, he may just be used to it all by now. The practical blood and gore and a couple of little twists in the story, are the strongest parts of Harvest. I don’t want to spoil anything for those who haven’t seen the film yet. Let’s just say fans of the macabre will not be disappointed. Nearly all the good stuff takes place on-screen and there are a couple of really sweet kills, not to mention a standout ending that I didn’t see coming.
Despite the copious volumes of red stuff and its eventful finale, Harvest isn’t without its issues. Most of the problems are with the technical side of things, some of which you might chalk up to budget constraints. Most of the lighting was okay, but on a couple of occasions the shades used, clearly show the difference in prosthetic skin coloration versus real human skin. It was clearly fake and not at all well combined, when mixed with actors being shown on-screen. The music and suspense also left a lot to be desired, I suppose the film is relying more on the shock value though, so that’s understandable. The subtitles need some editing as well. I won’t pick on these guys too much, because I definitely can’t speak another language so I commend anyone that does. They might want to just go through the film, with someone fluent in English and correct a few of the lines. The biggest disappointment for me was a lot of the shot choices and camera distance when framing some of the actors. Tops of heads are cut off in certain scenes, and we don’t get that spacial awareness we probably need to get into the scene, It’s most noticeable in the very opening of the film. The girl is in a tunnel kind of system, no doors or back entry’s or outlets are shown, yet somehow John is able to sneak up behind her, I didn’t really get that, From where?
Overall, Harvest was a pretty solid 19 minute short film. I’ve watched about 15 or 20 of these over the last 12 months, and I’m really getting behind some of these ideas. Really crisp audio, a decent performance and a cool twist complement this screenplay nicely. Gnarly blood and gore will be why most fans of the genre will want to see this. If not for technical issues, the big one being camera placement and shot choice, this would have been that bit better. Instead, it winds up being a little bit of a chore at times. Saying that, if you enjoy good, fast and twisted gory fun, Harvest is definitely worth checking out.
My rating for “Harvest” is 6.5/10