Director : Alec Gillis
Starring : Lance Henriksen,Camille Balsamo, Giovonnie Samuels, Matt Winston USA. 1 22m
Something a little repetitive from the darkside of sci fi, this independent monster horror was funded through Kickstarter and to it’s credit it does use minimal amounts of computer enhancements and makes for some great viewing.
An eco graduate student Sadie (Camille Balsamo) manages to convince her badass grandfather (Henriksen) to take her and some whiney bastard onboard his fishing trawler the Harbinger to investigate the effects of global warming on a pod of Belugas when she discovers a block of ice with a flashing light in it, turns out it’s a crashed Soviet moon lander that crashed landed in 1982, the astronauts bodies seem to be infected with an unknown virus but being frozen in the ice there is no chance of infection right!? After the corpse disappears and the identity of one of the crew is unearthed, a biological nightmare ensues.
Breaking the film down to the most basic form, this is The Thing (1982) on a boat. And to be honest there is nothing wrong with that, but it doesn’t pack as big a punch.But considering it’s a directorial debut with limited funding it’s actually quite a charm, that’s held together by Lance Henriksen’s veteran acting skills and creative creature effects, but struggles with the story in the second half.
After the cast are roughly introduced and the creature is discovered and kicks off with a gorey Ghostbusters 2 (1989) pink slushy kinda way, the film bounces around trying in many ways to write in different creature effects without much progression to the story or explanation as to what the crew are doing and gets dull. The lead, Sadie could have had a bit more grit and battled the monster with some gurrl power and she would have been a rival to Ripley but Sadie but the only real treats are the yucky monster scenes, and there are quite a few of doesn’t pick up the smart gun, instead she keeps herself a step ahead of this intergalactic monster using her wits and clever tricks, as the creature evolves, which does lead to the narrative taking a back seat in the darkness of the boat. One in particular that struck me as sick fun, is when this biological monster who blends DNA from the lifeforms it comes in contact with (yeah exactly like The Thing), is wearing one of the crew members faces as a mask with the body of The Fly (1986), I’m a simple girl I find these things funny…
Its The Thing on a boat… with some awesome creature effects but struggles with the plot.
Thankfully Harbinger Down manages to be it’s own film, with a lot of similarities to other sci fi horrors but it has a look and feel unlike the others, good use is made of the location and actors, the creature effects are sublime especially for the budget, making great use of puppets, stop motion and crazy editing and, it’s incredibly dark and moody, enhanced by the cold lighting and camera work, luckily it doesn’t go ape on the science, but remembers that it’s a horror film throughout.
Overall it’s a bit shaky, the script could have done with some more depth and better acting from more of the cast but it has some great scenes and is a solid beginning for a rookie director, I’d expect great things to come from Alec in the future.I really enjoyed the alien attack scenes and there are sufficient plot twists to give a good story, it just dwindles at some points. It does kill some time and is great fun to watch if you’re into messy monster flicks.
L – On a Boat, Infected/Zombie Astronauts, Hidden in Ice
5S – Lance Henriksen
Vs – Harbinger Down Vs The Thing