The Children’s Film Foundation meets the Pan Book of Horror Stories in the latest film from John McNaughton, director of HENRY - PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER, MAD DOG & GLORY and others. It was shown at last year’s FrightFest under the title THE HARVEST. It’s been retitled and given some box art to make it look like every other low-rent DVD release on the shelves at the moment which is a shame, because it’s a lot better than pretty much all of them.
When her mother and father die, twelve year old Maryann (Natasha Calis) goes to live with her grandparents in New England. Out wandering one day, she comes across a house that, if this were a Lucio Fulci film, would be located next to a cemetery. Through a downstairs window she spies Andy, a boy her age who is confined to a wheelchair by a mysterious disease that means he has to be kept at home. Andy’s father Richard (Michael Shannon from THE RUNAWAYS) doesn’t mind Maryann visiting.
Andy’s mother Katherine (Samantha Morton from COSMOPOLIS, MINORITY REPORT) on the other hand, is dead against it. She works as a surgeon at the local hospital and has been caring for Andy at home ever since he was born. This has involved the acquisition of medical equipment, and a large quantity of pharmaceuticals obtained illegally from drug rep Sandra (Meadow Williams). Maryann ignores Katherine’s warnings and continues to see Andy on the sly. One day she ends up trapped in the house, ventures downstairs, and discovers something quite unexpected in the basement.
As I’ve implied above, CAN’T COME OUT TO PLAY is miles better than most of the straight to DVD dross that’s available at the moment. In fact it’s a pleasure to see such a well made, well acted, low-key horror film. The plot isn’t that believable, but the skills of all involved keep you watching and there’s a satisfying payoff at the end as well.
Signature’s DVD is sadly a bare bones affair. John McNaughton was interviewed on stage at FrightFest but presumably the filmed footage wasn’t of good enough quality. The disc offers two sound mixes and scene selections and that’s all. CAN’T COME OUT TO PLAY still comes highly recommended, though, and is proof that not all low-budget modern horror has to consist of gibbering incompetents filming each other on their iPhones.
Signature Entertainment are releasing John McNaughton's CAN'T COME OUT TO PLAY aka THE HARVEST on Region 2 DVD on 22nd June 2015