Elizabeth, recently hitched to brainiac science whiz Henry (played with equal parts charm and menace by Ciaran Hinds), finds herself living the high life in H-dawg’s opulent mansion, eatin’ fancy grub and generally havin’ a real princess style good time. Soon ol’ hubby has to skedaddle off on some business thing or anther and he leaves Elizabeth in the care of the servants; blind Oliver (Matthew Beard) who digs on flower arranging (as one does), and vaguely ominous Claire (a many nuanced turn from Carla Gugino)…and he also tells her there is one room in the house she must never enter. She of course does this a mere p.h. after he leaves and discovers a strange experiment…and when Henry discovers that she’s disobeyed he hacks her to pieces with a rather large knife. And then things get very, very strange…but to say more would give too much of the story away as nothing is as it seems or predictable!
With it’s doe-eyed seemingly innocent heroine (played to perfection by Abbey Lee), mysterious aged benefactor, sprawling opulent home, outre servants, and a room that should never be entered; Elizabeth Harvest plays out like a neo-Gothic thriller, but among those tropes lie elements of the fairy tale and even slasher and sci-fi yarns…it all adds up to a deliriously unique and enthralling genre picture the likes of which has never been seen before. Adding to the surreal quality of the whole affair are the fever dream passages where the story is told merely with exotic, unconventional imagery rather than excessive dialog…but there is a negative flip side to that…
As the mystery progresses, we learn more about just what is going on via journal entries kept by Claire which are read aloud, making the character immediately become Basil Exposition as she goes on and on and reveals more and more…and while the information presented is interesting enough it makes the narrative flow uneven as we are lead out of the amazing fever dream, and into talk-talk station where we remain until the crazies return for Act Three.
Full of fantastically bizarre images and narrative conceits, a near-perfect dreamlike flow, and some damn fine acting; Elizabeth Harvest is a phenominal piece of psychotronic cinema…pacing misstep aside. If you love watching the cinematic equivalent of a dark, sensual nightmare then this is the film for you!