Wednesday, March 25, 2020
Unseen Films Stay At Home Fest: Film Thirty Six : Harbinger Down
Seemingly coming out of nowhere HARBINGER DOWN reveals itself to be a great little throw back to the horror and science fiction films of the 1980's, especially John Carpenter's THE THING, from which it lifts bits of its basic plot line.
The plot of the film has some university scientists hitching a ride on a crab boat. They are looking to track certain signs of global warming. One night, as the crew are crabbing, the ship comes near a large block of ice with something inside it. Taking the block out of water they discover that what's inside is a lost Soviet space ship with a dead pilot inside. Of course there's something else in there as well....
Solid B horror movie is a blast and a half. This is wonderful carnival thrill ride of a film that will be soul food to any one longing for a really good, scary, movie with a wicked as hell monster in it. This is exactly the sort of movie they don't make anymore because no one, until Alec Gillis appeared seemed to know how to make one any more.
HARBINGER DOWN takes a handful of well known horror movie tropes and combines them into a film that may not always produce screams, but never fails to entertain. That last part is key since I've seen plenty of scary films, and films that produced visceral reactions in me, but there have been very few that have delighted me in the way that I felt as a kid on a roller-coaster. Seriously I don't know when I had this much fun, I mean genuine smile on my face fun, watching a horror movie. Films like this were and are the reason I love horror movies so much- they are people in scary situations being menaced by butt ugly monsters that just make your skin crawl. This is one of those movies where you don't want to see the monster because it's so disturbing in a WTF IS THAT THING?!! way.
While the film riffs on any number of horror films of old (THE THING, ALIEN, VIRUS, DEADLY SPAWN, DEEP RISING and others) it also is a glorious throw back to the old way of doing visual effects- namely practically. The monsters in this film are actually there with the cast and its clear from their reactions that they are reacting to whatever it is that is in the room with them. When things come down behind an actor- its there with them. And while the effects aren't computer generated perfect they carry a weight that most CGI monsters never have. If there is anything wrong with the effects it's that director Gillis makes the surroundings a bit too bright so we see some of the flaws. But then again the settings all feel real even if they aren't- so consider it natural lighting.
While I am most certainly a huge fan of the film I'm not going to lie and say the film is perfect, it's not. As I said there are times we can see the monsters a little too well, there are a few bumps in the plotting and while it is always riveting the absolute bone chilling tension you expect from some horror films seems to be reserved for some of the set pieces and not every scene.
That said I love this film to death. This ain't high art, nor high horror- this is better,this is get you buddies together, grab some popcorn and beverage of choice and put on a film that will make you laugh and jump and smile and come away from it knowing that you've been entertained and gotten every penny of your money's worth out of it. This is one of those movies I'll stop to watch each time I run across it and put on when I need a friend to relax to.
I know some people will say I'm over selling the film and I may be, however there is just something so warm and fuzzy about the film I can't help but give it a big bear hug.
Go see this film and be entertained- hell it's light years ahead of and a thousand times more exciting then the mess that is the FANTASTIC FOUR