John Cusack, Billy Bob Thornton, ...
Credit: ICE HARVEST: Chuck Hodes

”I’ve always loved all those really dark Coen brothers movies,” says director Harold Ramis (Analyze This) of his attraction to Richard Russo’s ”unbelievably violent but beautifully written” script. Based on Scott Phillips’ 2000 debut novel, Harvest follows Charlie Arglist (john Cusack), a fallen-from-grace lawyer who embezzles a cool $2 million from a Kansas City Mob boss on Christmas Eve. Just as the happy hustler is ready to blow town with his skeevy partner (Billy Bob Thornton) and strip-club-owner girlfriend (Connie Nielsen), an ice storm delays their escape. Then ”the plot kicks in with this insane, bloody energy and it’s a downward spiral into hell,” says Ramis cheerfully. Hoping to make a killing of its own, Focus bumped the macabre comedy from March to November to try to emulate 2003’s holiday hit Bad Santa. Says Ramis, ”It’s been a long wait, but I’m optimistic.”