‘There’s a new witch in town’
The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw is a 2020 Canadian horror feature film in which a mother and daughter are suspected of witchcraft by their devout rural community. The UK title is Blood Harvest
Written and directed by Thomas Robert Lee (Empyrean), the Gate 67-Telefilm Canada production stars Catherine Walker (A Dark Song), Hannah Emily Anderson, Jared Abrahamson and Sean McGinley. It was produced by Gianna Isabella.
Young Audrey Earnshaw (Jessica Reynolds) and her mother, Agatha (Catherine Walker), live clandestinely as occultists on the outskirts of a remote Protestant village. Having gone to enormous lengths to hide Audrey’s existence from the community over the years, in part due to her having been born in secrecy, in a context that would never have been accepted by the superstitious townspeople, Agatha kept her close and guarded at home. As a consequence, a controlling relationship has developed.
One day, a mourner from town catches sight of Audrey, and whispers begin. The community has recently been left reeling from a series of inexplicable tragedies and hardships. Now, livestock and crops are falling prey to an unknown disease. Somehow, the Earnshaw farm has remained unaffected.
Suspicions grow. Hysteria mounts. Meanwhile, Audrey’s upbringing around ritual magic has borne fruit. Her abilities are blossoming, becoming stronger and more forceful by the day. Alongside her anger…
“Lee inflicts moments of sheer unholy terror upon the viewer, and it’s almost as if you are undergoing your very own reckoning, too. Flicking through various title cards like “Incantation” and “Descent,” he conveys the story as if it is a lost, harrowing fable from the book of Grimm Fairy Tales. The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw is absolutely bone-chilling.” B-Sides & Badlands
“The detail and effects are impressive, as is the creative eye of director Thomas Robert Lee. As the dominant/submissive relationship between mother and daughter rapidly unravels, the walls that Agatha has built up around them begin to crumble.” Backseat Mafia
“The languid pacing doesn’t build into a satisfying payoff; it just fades into the ether. It’s an unfocused folktale that wears its influences on its sleeves but doesn’t quite know what to do with them. The real curse of Audrey Earnshaw is that her spell is too vague and unfocused to be effective.” Bloody Disgusting
“The film strikes an excellent balance between slow-burning dread and visceral gore. Performances are solid across the board and each scene is masterfully constructed. It’s a rock-solid piece and a beautiful effort from Thomas Lee. Newcomer Jessica Reynolds shows a maturity and depth to her performance that promises greatness.” But Why Tho?
“ …The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw rounds out as what a 1990s Merchant-Ivory production might have looked like if they ever made a slow-burn horror fable. It’s a sleepy story that someone will certainly call “hauntingly beautiful,” two words which translate to “snoozefest” in more viscerally-oriented vocabularies.” Culture Crypt
“There are definitely elements of The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw that have earmarks of stories we’ve seen before: Carrie, The Witch, and The Scarlett Letter were just a few that came to mind to me. But it’s the way that Lee blends those elements into something very different and very unexpected that won me over in the end.” Daily Dead
“Creepy, shocking, atmospheric, and ultimately rewarding, I would have to say that The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw is in my top 10 horror films of 2020. It’s hardly perfect. Few films are. I was, for 90 minutes transported to a place shrouded in fog, cloaked in mystery and ultimately unsettling.” Horror Buzz
” …a chill-inducing study of a community in crisis whose belief system has seemingly failed them. The careful creation of the stark and isolated environment creates an incredible atmosphere. With disquieting but perfectly assembled folk horror imagery and fantastic performances, Audrey is worth letting out of the box.” Scared Sheepless
“Confidently building tension, Lee provides enough shock moments to satisfy genre fans but also maintains the intrigue of what exactly might be going on here. The cast is first-rate, investing the premise with complete conviction […] Jessica Reynolds is a striking horror presence in the tradition of Barbara Steele.” Screen Daily
” …a very methodical film that opts more for a slow-burning dread, than full-out visceral horror. The film features a standout performance by newcomer Jessica Reynolds […] Overall, The Curse of Aubrey Earnshaw is a fine addition to the growing folk-horror subgenre.” Sean Kelly on Movies
“There are so many opportunities to show Audrey outgrowing the dynamic she has with her mother, to show her maturing into an unstoppable young woman, and instead, they’re just wasted potential. Although The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw promises audiences a horrifying journey into witchcraft and madness, it fails to deliver on any of them.” Tilt
“Despite strong performances from the central duo of Reynolds and Catherine Walker as Agatha, and masterful use of its horror elements; The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw feels oddly lacking in anything that would make it really shine.” The Wee Review
“A flawed yet very entertaining film, The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw is a good addition to the folkloric horror subgenre. With its performances, ambience and aesthetic, it’s easy to overlook any small nitpicks and see that if you mess with a witch, you die at the hands of a witch.” Wicked Horror
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The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw premiered on August 22nd 2020 at the virtual Fantasia International Film Festival. In the UK, Signature Entertainment will release the film as Blood Harvest on Digital on 16th November 2020.
Cast and characters:
Catherine Walker … Agatha Earnshaw
Hannah Emily Anderson … Bridget Dwyer
Jared Abrahamson … Colm Dwyer
Sean McGinley … Seamus Dwyer
Don McKellar … Bernard Buckley
Geraldine O’Rawe … Deirdre Buckley
Anna Cummer … Mary Bell
Tom Carey … Lochlan Bell
David LeReaney … Burke
Alexis McKenna … Young Audrey
Jessica Reynolds … Audrey Earnshaw
Barb Mitchell … High Priestess
Lorette Clow … Town Midwife
Shawna Pliva McGill … Mother of young child (as Shawna Pliva)
Geordie Cheeseman … Depraved