There are some points to get out of the way before digging into Elizabeth Harvest.
- More people need to watch independent films such as this one because the end product isn’t heavily influenced by commercial interests.
- I’m not entirely confident what the movie’s trying to convey, but it was a thrilling ride nonetheless.
Abbey Lee plays the character of Elizabeth, a simple, beautiful, young woman who for all intents and purposes will be Henry Kellenberg’s (Ciarán Hinds) trophy wife. A dreamy, surreal sequence at the start sees Henry bring Elizabeth to their new home, where he provides her everything she could possibly imagine, but there’s one condition. She isn’t supposed to enter one room in the basement. Everything else, of course, is all hers for the taking.
Being the young, naive bride of a scientific genius, Elizabeth can’t resist herself, opting to enter the off-limits room when Henry’s away. What she finds inside, however, only manages to endanger her life and the very enemy could be her husband.
Writer and director Sebastian Gutierrez provides a dreamy and surreal aesthetic touch to the movie that matches the bravado and intelligence of Hinds’ character. Of course, the other pieces in the movie, Lee’s Elizabeth included service this goal. The entire mansion is in some ways a construct of Henry’s mind’s inner workings. It displays flashes of modernity and the future, infusing this with more traditional and grandiose flourishes. The pristine and minimalistic living room is counteracted by a study with wooden floors and bookshelves reaching to the skies, presenting quite the juxtaposition. It suits the man, a pioneer in the medical field who has a habit of clinging to the past, both his and society’s.
The other two supporting characters of the movie, Carla Gugino’s Claire and Matthew Beard’s Oliver are presented as the “servants,” maintaining the household and fulfilling Henry’s every command. The surreal nature of the house extends to these two, presenting them as prisoners of some sort, trapped within whatever penitentiary Henry has them in.
The newest addition to the home, Elizabeth, is added in as a trophy wife on one level, and an object servicing a higher purpose that we’re to discover as time passes. It’s uncanny how Abbey Lee is seamlessly integrated into the house. Her hair, her complexion, and her dresses blend in with the interiors flawlessly.
When she first enters the house, her lily white wedding dress complements the clean and barebones living room. Simple, elegant. At dinner, her dress camouflages itself in the moonlit interiors. And later in the study, her red jacket suits the professionalism of the room while her ginger hair strikes a chord with the wooden floors. She is part of the house, an ornament or item of decor, or worse yet, she’ll be used to serve something of Henry’s imagination, present within the home, present within the forbidden room.
Video and audio sync in such a lyrical, poetic way to engages our senses, pique our curiosity, and keep us on our toes. This is a genuinely exciting science fiction thriller.
Bound by Confusion
While the dominant perspective is always Elizabeth’s, her narrative is interrupted intermittently by Henry, Oliver, and Claire. This aids the fantasy created by the movie and helps enhance its otherworldly nature by putting together the puzzle with misshapen pieces. It’s difficult to ascertain if our characters are, when push comes to shove, always truthful. Will they confess the truth when their backs are against the wall, or lie because the stakes are more important than one person?
Four people, working toward four different agendas, all in some way tied to whatever lies in the forbidden room. The truth of what’s inside the room is also modified for each person because no one knows the full story. They’re familiar with some chapters, but not all.
A Morbid Love Story
At the very end, you will formulate a picture of what everything meant as Elizabeth construes it. But the thing is, she was fed truths and lies, so do we take certain matters at face value or scrutinize them a little further, placing one statement against another?
Then there’s the picture of what the film means to us. It could be taken as a topsy-turvy science fiction thriller sending our characters through some highly torturous situations. That is the most simple message you can take away if you think so. But it’s more than that. This is a morbid love story of a woman dreamt up as a product of a man’s imagination, and if she chooses to live up to his expectations or define them on her own.
If you like mystery and suspense movies, check out these other reviews.
Sankha started Not So Rotten because his friends didn’t like Mortdecai. He has yet to review the film for the website.