Director: John McNaughton Starring: Samantha Morton, Michael Shannon & Natasha Calis Synopsis: A couple who keeps their sick son in a secluded environment find their controlled lives challenged by a young girl who moves in next door Rating: 15 Run time: 104 minutes Release date: 22 June (DVD)
It’s more than understandable that sometimes actors will have to take a pay check over artistic integrity. Sometimes that comes in the form of a mega budget blockbuster, and sometimes it comes in the form of a straight to video home release. Can’t Come Out to Play, aka The Harvest, is firmly in the latter camp, but despite its bargain bin allusions, it is actually a fairly decent thriller that is probably better than it has any right to be.
When young Maryann (Natasha Calis) moves in with her grandparents after losing her parents, she stumbles a nearby house where wheelchair bound Andy (Charlie Tahan) lives. Andy is confined to his room most of the time, while his parents, Shannon & Morton, balance their personal and professional lives to take care of him. While they do indeed take care of Andy, they also seem to harbour a lot of aggression toward their son.
Katherine (Morton) and Richard (Shannon) attitudes towards their son seem sinister at best, and their reluctance for him to become friends with Maryann raise a few questions with regards to their true intentions. Why is Katherine so aggressive? Does Richard want away from the family? And why does Maryann believe they are both hiding a bizarre secret?
Even though Can’t Come Out to Play is billed as horror, it plays more like a thriller. With a slow build and an altogether unnecessary opening, it may not play to everyone’s patience, but there are moments here, along with some solid acting that make Can’t Come Out to Play a very serviceable film.
Director John McNaughton’s career has gone in roughly the same direction since 1984, with Henry: Portrait of a Killer and Wild Things arguably being his best efforts to date. Can’t Come Out to Play is hardly going to reinvigorate his career, but it does mark him out as a dependable director, able to operate with only modest tools at his disposal.
While McNaughton provides steady direction, the films lead actors help raise the film above the usual genre tropes. Samantha Morton shines as the angry mother whose mid film rampage would put the brakes on any would be rebellious son. While Shannon has the ability to portray a variety of emotions through those glaring eyes of his. Tahan and Calis are also convincing as the two youngsters who are forbidden from befriending each other.
While the direction is sound and the acting reliable, Can’t Come Out to Play is a tad too predictable at times, and even its twist ending may be spotted by audiences early on. If however, you can put up with the slow pace, you may be rewarded with an involving little thriller suitable for killing a few hours.
In summary: It’s hardly an outstanding example of the genre, but Can’t Come Out to Play is efficient enough to satisfy an itch, but won’t break any new ground in the process.