You need to watch the best arthouse sci-fi thriller on Netflix before it leaves this week
“We're not the prize. We're the bait.”
If you caught M. Night Shyamalan’s latest feature Old, you might have been shocked by its grotesque body horror.
The calcium-deficient Chrystal, played by Australian model-turned-actress Abbey Lee, is one of the most memorable characters in Shyamalan’s new movie. What you may not know is that Abbey Lee is an old pro at the eerie metaphysical, with roles in Mad Max: Fury Road, The Neon Demon, and Lovecraft Country. But her most stunning role is a little-known gem of a sci-fi thriller streaming on Netflix until July 31. Here’s why you should watch Elizabeth Harvest before leaves the streaming service.
Elizabeth Harvest is a 2018 film written and directed by Venezuelan filmmaker Sebastián Gutierréz. It stars Abbey Lee as Elizabeth, a gorgeous young bride being swept away to marital bliss in a convertible by her new husband Henry, played with a menacing coldness by Ciarán Hinds. (DC fans know Hinds for his work as Steppenwolf from both versions of Justice League.)
Henry takes Elizabeth, still in a dreamlike haze, into his large, reclusive house and shows her around all the rooms, full of clothes, jewels, anything she could possibly desire. There’s just one rule: she’s not allowed in one room. She agrees, and he introduces her to his housekeeper Claire and blind son, Oliver.
Like Eve in Eden, Elizabeth can’t resist the allure of the forbidden room.
But, like Eve in Eden, Elizabeth can’t resist the allure of the forbidden room, and what she finds inside changes her entire opinion on her husband, her new life, and her identity. When Henry learns Elizabeth broke the only rule he set for her, he gets back at her viciously, beginning a gorgeously shot game of cat and mouse, culminating in Henry brutally slaughtering Elizabeth with a machete.
And just like that... the movie begins again. Elizabeth is back in the convertible, once again being whisked away to her new home. The entire first act repeats itself, with Elizabeth once again being introduced to Claire and Oliver and told of the secret room she could not enter.
In this second try, the film hits its stride, depicting all-out sci-fi horror with an almost overwhelming sense of style and grace. Instead of jumpscares, Elizabeth Harvest uses a slow-burn horror sensibility and combines it with stark color symbolism and split-screen to show off every tool in the arthouse toolbox. It’s not like any horror film you’ve seen before, but it’s not so out there that it will go over an arthouse novice’s head.
Elizabeth Harvest is an intimate horror film with a small set, a small cast, and a tight story. But the issues it handles — memory, identity, trust, and relationships — are far loftier. If you enjoy horror, sci-fi, and the odd cerebral thriller, this is the perfect combination. Catch this movie before it’s gone for good.
Elizabeth Harvest is streaming on Netflix until July 31.