Dark Harvest, a 2023 fantasy-horror film, is brought to life by director David Slade and the creative minds of writers Michael Gilio and Norman Partridge. The cast includes talented actors such as Casey Likes, Emyri Crutchfield, Alejandro Akara, Jeremy Davies, Elizabeth Reaser, and more. The story centers around Richie Shephard’s desperate desire to escape his forsaken town. However, the only way out is by confronting and defeating a menacing monster that awakens to terrorize the town each Halloween night.

Dark Harvest (2023) Movie Synopsis & Plot Summary:

The movie kicks off with this eerie warning about Sawtooth Jack, this legendary creature destined to rise on Halloween night from the cornfield and head straight for the church gate. It’s a total disaster if he’s not stopped, and he’s got the town on edge. We’re talking about a quaint mid-western town dealing with an ancient curse or some buried secret, and every year, they face off against this fiery creature in what they call the “Run.” Now, Jim Shephard (Britain Dalton) is the latest hero to conquer the Run.

For his bravery, the mayor hooks him up with a swanky new house and a shiny Cadillac, giving him permission to hit the road and leave town. But here’s the catch: you can’t just bolt out of this place whenever you feel like it. Nope. The folks here have this unique sense of duty, and if you try to leave without earning your stripes in the Run, you’re labeled a coward and an outcast. Jim’s got a brother, Riche (Casey Likes), who pleads to tag along, but rules are rules. So, even though it’s tough, Jim says his goodbyes and heads out, fully aware of the weight of the town’s expectations and the legacy he carries. Now Richie wants to follow in his brother’s footsteps, win the Run, and leave town.

Why Richie Wants to Do the Run?

Halloween’s creeping up in just three days, and this town is buzzing with prep for the Run. Sheriff Jerry (Luke Kirby) has the high school crew in training mode, giving ’em the lowdown on how to handle this spooky showdown. His advice? Lock yourself in your room, cut off from your parents and friends, and brainstorm hard on how to tackle Sawtooth Jack. But here’s the twist: some folks ain’t buying the whole Sawtooth Jack tale.

They reckon it’s just a scare tactic to keep everyone in line. Richie is not too thrilled about how everyone’s always going on about his big-shot brother. It irks him to no end that his parents treat Jim like some kind of hero. Richie’s itching to get in on the Run, but his folks shut that idea down real quick, pointing at the rulebook. The thing is, Richie’s made up his mind; rules be damned, he’s joining that Run, come what may.

Richie is also dealing with a heap of bullying from Riley (Austin Autry) and his crew, which is like pouring gasoline on his determination fire. Frustrated and mad as a hornet, he decides he’s had enough, swipes a car, and makes a break for it, aiming to leave town in the dust. But the Sheriff’s having none of it, and Richie gets caught at the border, facing a brutal beating.

Meanwhile, the high-school gang is deep in prep mode for the Run. They’ve barricaded themselves in their rooms, a hardcore lockdown – no water, no snacks, and absolutely no leaving for even a bathroom break. It’s like a pressure cooker in there; if they gotta go, well, they’re doing it right in the room. The tension’s rising, and it’s about to hit the fan.

How Does Sawtooth Jack Terrorize the Town?

Richie and Mitch are amped up for the Run, excitement oozing out of them, but Bud’s got a nagging feeling in his gut, doubts tugging at him. This trio, though, they’re not one to follow the usual playbook. They hatch a plan to track down and face Sawtooth Jack head-on, thinking they can outsmart the monster. They snag a truck and hit the road, full of adrenaline. But in the heat of the moment, they collide with someone—or something. Heart racing, they stumble out of the truck, expecting to find Sawtooth Jack.

To their disbelief, he’s standing right there in the cornfield. Charlie charges forward to confront the creature, but tragedy strikes – Sawtooth Jack takes him down. The horror escalates as Mitch and others meet a similar grim fate. It’s a bloodbath, and Richie’s crew is dwindling fast. Amidst the chaos, Richie crosses paths with Kelly (Emyri Crutchfield), a surprise participant in The Run, defying the norm that typically excludes girls.

Richie and Kelly realize that hammers and knives won’t cut it against Sawtooth. They need serious firepower. So, Richie takes matters into his own hands, quite literally, and nabs the Sheriff’s car, where he knows there’s a spare gun stashed away. Meanwhile, the town’s turning into a chaotic whirlwind. Sawtooth Jack’s on a rampage, terrorizing and leaving a trail of mayhem as he hunts down anyone in hiding. On the flip side, the desperate townsfolk see the bedlam as an opportunity. While the chaos unfolds, they raid the local cakes and meat shop, desperately scavenging for anything to quell their gnawing hunger.

Dark Harvest (2023) Movie Ending Explained
A still from Dark Harvest (2023)

Jerry, being the sly one, tricks Richie and Kelly by having Edith send a fake distress message over the cop’s radio, baiting them to Oak Street. But just when they think they’ve got him figured out, Sawtooth Jack makes a dramatic entrance. Richie spots Sawtooth’s belt buckle, a dead ringer for his own. Luckily, our heroes dodge Sawtooth’s clutches yet again and end up face-to-face with the conniving Jerry. Jerry spills the beans, admitting he’s the one who took out Kelly’s parents when they tried to hightail it outta town. Kelly launches a full-on attack on Jerry, fights her way out, and bolts. Meanwhile, Richie, being the stand-up guy he is, rushes Kelly to his place, patching her up and vowing to put an end to this horror show once and for all.

What Happened to Jim? What’s the Secret of Sawtooth Jack?

Richie’s suspicions start ringing alarm bells, big time. He goes all detective and starts asking his mother, Donna (Elizabeth Reaser), about what really happened to the past Run winners. Turns out, the story he’d been fed doesn’t add up. Most of those winners? They’re either pushing up daisies or living miles away, not enjoying some carefree post-victory life. He even starts doubting those postcards from his brother, Jim. Were they just a ploy by Donna to keep him from joining the Run?

Things take a dark and twisted turn when Donna takes her own life. She leaves behind a request for Richie to stop this Sawtooth madness once and for all. The plot thickens even more as Richie connects the dots. His dad, Dan (Jeremy Davies), is knee-deep in this messed-up scheme, cozying up to Sheriff Jerry.  Richie realizes that the winners aren’t leaving town—they’re becoming the very next Sawtooth Jack for the next horrifying year. Sawtooth Jack is actually Richie’s own brother, Jim, who turned into this monstrous creature after winning the Run.

Dark Harvest (2023) Movie Ending Explained:

Who Won the Run?

Towards the end of ‘Dark Harvest,’ Richie decides he can’t let more lives be lost due to this twisted scheme. He chooses an unexpected path. He chooses to help Sawtooth Jack, who is revealed to be his brother, Jim, in reaching the church. However, just when it seems like a chance for a different ending, Riley, a wrench in the works, appears and opens fire on Sawtooth Jack. Caught in the crossfire, Sawtooth Jack wrests Richie’s gun and takes his own life, ultimately making Richie the unintended victor.

Richie receives his own shiny Corvette and some cash to flee the town, just like his brother Jim. Kelly’s rolling with him, aiming for an escape. Unfortunately, Sheriff Jerry is on their tail. Jerry pulls the classic bad cop move, forcing Richie to halt and dragging him into the cornfield at gunpoint. Richie has come prepared and ends up turning the tables, shooting Jerry in self-defense.

But just when it seems like they might get away, out of the blue, a farmer dude comes in and knocks Richie out cold with a heavy hit to the head. Next thing you know, Richie is buried alive in that cornfield. Meanwhile, Kelly becomes a helpless witness to this horror show, too scared to even move a finger. Dan, Richie’s dad, shows up and tells Kelly to bolt before things get worse. So, she takes off, leaving behind a nightmare that’ll haunt her forever.

Is Richie the New Sawtooth Monster?

The sawtooth monster has been the stuff of nightmares in this town for ages. They’ve fought tooth and nail to keep that creature at bay, and they’ve been pretty successful until that one tragic time when things went south. That dust cloud it kicked up was lethal, wiping out folks and their crops. Sheriff Jerry lost his own dad to that catastrophe. And the reason they’ve got this ironclad rule against family members joining the Run is chilling.

They reckon if a family member or a close friend found out that their very own kin or buddy was the dreaded Sawtooth monster, it could mess with their head. I mean, how could you confront someone you love turned into a monster? So, the rule’s in place to ensure they do what needs to be done – take down that beast and end the cycle of terror. It’s a brutal truth, but it’s the only way to keep the town from being held hostage by this monstrous cycle.

In the post-credit scene, that farmer digs Richie up and strings him on a cross. Then, he grabs a pumpkin, carves a face on it, and slips it over Richie’s head. Over time, the pumpkin rots and sort of fuses with Richie’s face, giving him that Sawtooth monster look. Come Halloween night, Richie’s dad, Dan, comes to visit. He takes Richie down from the cross and pushes him for revenge, wanting him to burn the whole town down to a crisp.

Read More: The 15 Best Horror Movies of 2020


Dark Harvest (2023) Movie Links: IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, Wikipedia, Letterboxd
The Cast of Dark Harvest (2023) Movie: Casey Likes, E’myri Crutchfield, Dustin Ceithamer, Elizabeth Reaser, Jeremy Davies
Dark Harvest (2023) Movie Genre: Horror/Mystery & thriller, Runtime: 1h 20m
Where to watch Dark Harvest

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