12 June 2004 | LGwriter49
One of Bette Davis' best performances late in her career
Say what you will about the translation of Tom Tryon's fine gothic chiller Harvest Home into this TV film, Bette Davis' performance here is riveting and really nails home the creepiness of the tale. Unlike her sad farewell in The Wicked Stepmother (1989) where she was clearly having trouble focusing on her acting, here she is a powerful presence that (goose)fleshes out this telefilm the way it should be.
Playing the Widow Fortune (a prophetic name if ever there was one), she is the matriarch of Cornwall Coombe, a small Connecticut village just on the other side of the Lost Whistle covered bridge where "the ways" hold sway over the villagers. What they do and how they do it is bound by tradition, one hundred percent, so when a city family comes to stay, culture clash is inevitable.
Of course we all know this is a gothic chiller standard--sophisticated city couple/family comes to small quiet village only to find it mired in evil and horror, et cetera. Too true. But Davis' character is spellbinding enough that the viewer can overlook this tried and true plot point and enjoy the proceedings. Additionally, aside from some minor outdated bits of dialogue here and there, the script is actually pretty intelligent; a low stupidity quotient in the dialogue helps tremendously.
Unfortunately the VHS release of this film was chopped considerably; the original five hour length was shown on TV but unless the viewer taped it (as I did), it's completely unavailable. High time for a DVD release.
This is a great way to spend an evening with a roaring snowstorm outside. And the ending really is a shocker.