Saturday, March 5, 2016

Savage Harvest 2: October Blood (2006)

A while back, I reviewed a film called "Savage Harvest", a micro-budget "Evil Dead" pastiche that marked the directorial debut of indie horror vet Eric Stanze. 12 years later, his company Wicked Pixel gave the world a sequel, and not just a retread at that. Indeed, this is a (barely) bigger budgeted, longer and more ambitious film than the original. So, is it better?

The plot is actually a bit loaded for a movie like this. Here, Ashley Lomack (Emily Haack) is the sister of the lone survivor of the events of the first film. She receives a VHS (remember those?) of her sister, face covered in blood, seeming to be stalked and eventually killed by an unknown force. In the process, Tyge Murdock (Benjamin Gaa) is a director of micro-budget horror who sees an actor die on the set of one of his movies. Returning to his old hometown to think about his life and escape from his troubles, he runs into Ashley, as well as his old friend Zack (Eric Stanze). It is here they must re-visit the past, and return to the site of the film's previous events...

I'd be lying if I said this movie isn't flawless, because the flaws do stick out. The biggest one is the fact that the first hour of the movie is very deliberately paced. This turns out to be a mixed blessing. On one hand, it actually manages to gain a sense of dread and unease, as you can tell something awful will eventually happen. It also allows a brief, interesting look at the nature of making micro-budget horror that feels autobiographical. Unfortunately, that look into that world isn't addressed enough, and the movie runs into a problem a lot of micro-budget horror movies run into: bad acting and occasionally uneven pacing. Granted, you don't expect award worthy performances, but the acting on display is pretty dire to be honest, and you ultimately get several moments that kind of drag on because of this. 

However, a little over an hour into the movie, the film becomes an all out splatter flick filled with demonic possessions, chainsaw dismemberment and so much more. It all actually looks pretty impressive for the budget, and once it hits the fan, the movie becomes unrelenting. It's also pretty well directed by Jason Christ, who manages to do something a lot of shot on video, super low-budget movies fail to do-it actually feels like a movie instead of people goofing around, pretending to be filmmakers. It's refreshing to see something like this that's actually treated seriously for a change. 

Another major plus is the fact that, as I said, this movie actually has ambition. So many super cheap horror movies tend to think referencing other horror movies is enough. This is a movie that, though it owes a huge debt to "The Evil Dead" (as well as "Demons" and "Night of the Demons"), actually tries to stand on it's own as a sequel, and tries to inject more story than you usually get from this kind of fare.

As I said, this is far from a perfect movie. However, it is also better than I expected it to be, and also manages to be a rare sequel that improves on the original. If you are a sucker for micro-budgeted indie horror, then you should check this out.

Rating: 6.5/10

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