Dark Harvest (2023) Ending Explained – What does Richie discover about Sawtooth Jack?

Dark Harvest Plot Summary

Dark Harvest, from 30 Days Of Night director David Slade, kicks off with an ominous warning about a legendary creature known as Sawtooth Jack.

Every Halloween, Jack rises from the cornfields in the rural town of Bastion, Illinois, where he fights his way through groups of mask-wearing high school boys who try to stop him from entering the local church before midnight. If Jack manages to make it beyond the church gates, the town and their harvest will be doomed, according to the legend.

The boy who manages to slay Jack wins a new car and a better house for their parents, so there is an incentive to take part, despite the risk of having one’s head lopped off by the menacing creature.

At the start of Dark Harvest, Jack is captured by the high schoolers. One of them – Jim – kills the monster and then (as tradition dictates) eats his bloody entrails. Following his victory, Jim receives his prize, a shiny new Cadillac, and we watch him say goodbye to his younger brother Richie before he drives out of town to start life anew. 

A year later Sawtooth Jack is about to rise again. Richie gears himself up to take part in the hunt, against the better wishes of his parents who, for reasons that later become clear, don’t want him to take part.

When Richie does participate in this deadly Halloween tradition, he discovers a secret that the adults of the community have been trying to hide. What is this secret? Let’s take a closer look at the movie.

Why does Sawtooth Jack head towards the church?

We don’t learn a lot about Sawtooth Jack’s origins but we do know that the town’s harvest will be ruined if they fail to catch him before he reaches the church gates. This is why the town mayor and the local police chief give the job of killing the monster to the high school boys in the town. 

The reason for Jack heading to the church is unexplained but judging by events that happen later in the movie, it’s probably his way of seeking vengeance on the townsfolk. 

Why does Richie want to take part in the hunt?

According to the rules of the hunt, the sibling of the past year’s Run isn’t allowed to take part. The reason for this seems to be to let other families win a new home but at the end of the movie, another reason becomes clear. 

Richie wants to take part in the hunt, despite the rule, as he wants to prove his worth and not be seen as a coward. His parents aren’t happy about this and neither is the police chief, but Richie disregards what they tell him and proceeds with the hunt anyway. 

He isn’t the only person to participate in the hunt when they’re not supposed to. Girls aren’t allowed to take part either but when Richie meets a local Black girl named Kelly, who others consider an outcast because of her low status and skin colour, the two of them team up in pursuit of Sawtooth Jack. 

What is the truth about Sawtooth Jack?

The hunt is on! For most of those taking part, a bloody death awaits them as Jack slices them apart, but Richie and Kelly manage to survive the night. As we near the movie’s close, the two catch up to Jack. 

Richie points his gun at the monster but he doesn’t shoot. Why? Because he recognizes the belt around Jack’s waist. It’s the same belt his brother used to wear. 

At this point, Jack’s identity becomes clear – it’s Jim, or at least a monstrous version of his former self.

Richie realizes that his brother didn’t leave town as his parents had led him to believe. After driving away in the Cadillac, Jim was captured, buried alive, and once dead, placed on a cross and hung up in a cornfield. On Halloween night, Jim came back to life as Sawtooth Jack and made the run for the church. As suggested earlier, this was probably his way to seek vengeance on the townsfolk who orchestrated his death as he knew the town’s harvest would be destroyed.

Jim’s fate was the same fate that had befallen previous victors of the hunt. This begs the question – why were they killed?

If the adult members of the town knew they would come back as Sawtooth Jack, why didn’t they let them leave? Did they think their harvest would be ruined if the resurrection didn’t take place? We’re unsure of the answer but here’s what we do know – Richie’s parents didn’t want him to take part in the hunt because they didn’t want him to discover the truth about Jim. They were also afraid that their son would fall victim to the same fate. 

What happens to Sawtooth Jack?

After realizing what has happened to Jim, Richie decides to help him reach the church. But it’s not long before the surviving high schoolers catch up to them. One of them, Riley, shoots and wounds Jack on the steps of the church. He thinks he is about to become the victor but then Jack takes Richie’s hands and encourages him to end his suffering.

Richie reluctantly shoots Jack and becomes the winner of the hunt, much to his regret.

What happens to Richie?

Richie wins the car and together with Kelly, takes the drive to the town’s exit. But before they can escape town, the police chief stops them and forces Richie into the cornfield at gunpoint. He leads him to the burial site where all the past winners had been buried. But before he can dispose of Richie, the young teen pulls out a gun and kills him. 

Unfortunately, Richie isn’t able to return to Kelly. A farmer comes out of the darkness – the same man that tied the past victors to the cross – and knocks Richie over the head with a shovel. He then buries Richie alive.

During the post-credits scene, we see the farmer return to tie the dead body of Richie to the cross. He then places a pumpkin head over the unfortunate teen’s head. We then cut to a year later and see Richie transform into Sawtooth Jack. His father arrives, cuts him down, and kills the intervening farmer.

In the final scene, Sawtooth Jack/Richie stands before the father. “Burn it all down” shouts the father to his son, giving him permission (not that he needed it) to take his revenge on the townsfolk.


Read More: Dark Harvest Movie Review

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7 thoughts on “Dark Harvest (2023) Ending Explained – What does Richie discover about Sawtooth Jack?”

  1. Hey, thanks for sharing your knowledge of the book’s story. That’s very helpful in the context of the article. I really appreciate your getting in touch. Thanks again


  2. In the book, Sawtooth Jack reaches the church in time but gets hit badly enough so he can’t get it. The Protagonist, who is named Peter and not related to the boy Jim who became the new Sawtooth Jack, and Kelley help him up and into the church barely in time. Sawtooth Jack then realises that he’s not turning back into a boy, which was what he believed would happen. He asks Peter gor the gun and leaves the church to destroy the town, gunning the Sheriff down forst and then erupting into flames, destroying the whole town.
    And that’s why they try to stop him each year, from things other characters say in the book it becomes clear, that they knew Sawtooth Jack would destroy the town if he managed to reach the church.

    As to why they sacrifice the boy who wins, it’s not explicitly explained what they gain from that. But it’s a ritual they have to follow. It has been that way for a very long time, and the Harvest Guild is responsible for that. But no one knows why they insist on that. The harvest is just an excuse, but the men who control the guild are the only ones who know for sure. It’s hinted though that if for whatever reason the ritual is not running it’s full course, the whole town will be destroyed.
    That includes the following things:
    The Sawtooth Jack has to be killed by a male child between the age of 16 and 19. If anyone else kills him, the curse will hit them.

    If he reaches the church before midnight, the curse will hit them.

    If no boy gets sacrificed, the curse will hit them.

    For me, that made a lot more sense than the movie, although I liked the movie too.

    I guess they changed it so they had the option to make a sequel.

  3. How about, better actors should have been chosen and better plot. Like how do they become monsters? What happens if Jack makes it to church? I think the movie was about how parents are willing to sacrifice their children for money and what happens to children of they are locked up and starved but that was missed and totally bad writing and acting.

  4. Stupid ending to a good movie . True ending should be this :
    Kelly gets out of the car , saves Richie
    They go back to the car and the father comes to see that Richie is alive and well
    All 3 go in the car , leave town and let the curse ruin the town.
    Same result without the bullshit ending and no one had to die and still the town gets what the town deserves.

  5. Dani, I kind of agree… I think the whole audience was hoping for Kelly to go and rescue Ritchie. And, although they DID sort of end it fairly well, I think the same result could have been achieved if she had gone back and saved him and they escaped. That way the audience who is invested in these characters is a little happier (aren’t we getting tired of EVERY damn Horror film ending ‘badly’… I mean seriously, we CAN have some bloody ‘Good’ endings once in a frigg’n while, can’t we…?)

    And, because Ritchie isn’t there to be the next Sawtooth Jack, the curse would come upon the town anyway. Perhaps, as they drove off, they could’ve shown some impending doom descending upon the town due to their escape. I think that would have been better, made the audience more happy, and ended with the same result, perhaps with some phenomena building up to destroy the town.

    Just a thought… DAMN good film though! Very well made and directed I thought.

  6. Excellent point. I was unsure why she stayed hidden too.Glad you liked the movie though – some critics hated on it but unfairly in my opinion.


  7. So Kelly is a badass all the way through until the end when she somehow stays hidden in the car instead of saving Ritchie? Bad writing, dude. Unforgivably bad. Up til then, was a good movie.

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