In 1993, Mikki Lomack (Lisa Morrison) was the sole survivor of a massacre that left her Uncle and several friends dead at her Aunt and Uncle’s rural Missouri farm. Now, after 14-years, Mikki’s younger sister Ashley (Emily Haack) has returned to town to embrace the mystery behind that fateful day in 1993 and Mikki’s subsequent suicide in 1998. Drawn into her quest for the truth is Zach (played by original SAVAGE HARVEST writer/director Eric Stanze) a former high school friend who has become obsessed with local lore and Tyge (Benjamin Gaa) a filmmaker and former flame who has arrived back in his hometown to escape the aftermath of a fatal accident that took place on the set of his latest production.
As the friends slowly begin to unravel the history of the original murders they soon find themselves embroiled in an otherworldly nightmare where demon possession and an ancient Cherokee legend threaten to destroy their lives and leave everyone dead before the dawn.
In Wicked Pixel Cinema’s sequel to the cult hit SAVAGE HARVEST, Jason Christ takes over writing and directing duties from founder Eric Stanze and manages to create an original and compelling film that, at once, pays homage to the original microbudget classic but still stands independently as a quality feature film on it’s own accord.
Sequels in the world of no budget filmmaker are no more rare than they are in the dazzling spotlight of Hollywood. The difference between those big budget spin-offs and the red-headed-stepchildren of independent cinema is that the microbudget guys don’t usually do as good a job at making their sequels stand apart from their originals—their either too similar in story, or they owe too much allegiance to the plot of their originators. Christ’s film falls into the second category in that respect, However it’s a testament to his writing skills that he does an exceptional job at creating a memorable movie that actually enhances the storyline—created over a decade earlier by Stanze—rather than replicating it.
By employing the original heroine Mikki’s younger sister Ashley as the main protagonist, the film has a direct link the original film. Since Christ spends better than half the movie establishing the plot and demystifying the original production’s lore, he not only provides an audience—who may not have been privy to the original picture—a basis for the events, but he also manages to enhance the original productions already detailed mythology. As a companion piece, SAVAGE HARVEST 2 is nearly perfect in its execution. Even the film’s final epic bloodlettings echo the fast-paced and gore heavy anarchy of the first film.
As a stand-alone production the film’s dialogue intense opening acts may turn-off gorehounds with a high expectation of bodies. Clocking in at just under 2-hours, SAVAGE HARVEST 2 demands viewers commit to the film before delivering the final death throes. And while I do believe that SAVAGE HARVEST 2 works well as a self-contained film, upon viewing it in succession with the original it becomes less clear if my ultimate appreciation is reserved for the continuing story arc of the original or for the films specific high-qualities. Of those qualities, the effects work is top notch. Once again echoing the original production, the lead character employs a chainsaw as the means to destroy the heart of the possessed. This leads to many a severed limb and in one notably painful scene, a chainsaw between the legs of one male demon that will leave more than a few guys winching at the extended slaughter.
As in the original production a Lomack sister carries the film. In her performance as Ashley, Emily Haack offers an overwhelming and defining sadness, characteristics of a woman whose life has escaped her control. She is haunted by the bloody images of Mikki’s suicide—and the cameo appearance of Lisa Morrison as Mikki is a nice touch here. When Ashley first encounters the returning Tyge, their uncomfortable past is played perfectly and the tension and unresolved feelings about their parting is boiling just below the surface of their cordial conversation. I was more than impressed by Haack in this scene than any other, although she shines again as she is forced to confront the evil that has taken her friends souls.
It stands to reason that most of the people that will be drawn to this sequel are fans of the original. For those folks, SAVAGE HARVEST 2 will not only give you a greater appreciation of the source material, it will introduce you to Jason Christ, a filmmaker with an excellent eye for detail and a strong narrative sense—something that far too many horror filmmakers working in the DIY marketplace lack. If you’ve never seen the original, SAVAGE HARVEST 2 may seem at times tedious and wordy, but I promise you it will pay off later by sending you head first down a river of crimson in the epic finale. What more could you ask for?