Harbinger Down Is The Thing We Deserved [Review]

Harbinger Down

Harbinger Down began back in 2013 on Kickstarter and was pitched by Alec Gillis as ADI's answer for fans who love Practical Effects on film, but felt let down by the current trend to CGI everything. ADI has done a ton of effects in the film industry, but when doing the prequel to John Carpenter's The Thing their work was heavily covered in CGI and that was the spark that ignited this passion project. With funds raised on Kickstarter and mixed with their own blood, sweat and tears they would deliver a full feature that harkens back to the golden age of Practical Effects. Now jump forward to 2015 and Harbinger Down is here for the fans to enjoy.

A group of grad students have booked passage on the fishing trawler Harbinger to study the effects of global warming on a pod of Orcas in the Bering Sea. When the ship’s crew dredges up a recently thawed piece of old Soviet space wreckage, things get downright deadly. It seems that the Russians experimented with tardigrades, tiny resilient animals able to withstand the extremes of space radiation. The creatures survived, but not without mutation. Now the crew is exposed to aggressively mutating organisms. And after being locked in ice for 3 decades, the creatures aren’t about to give up the warmth of human companionship.

I think it should go without saying that Harbinger Down delivers on the FX. From fantastic miniature usage to the creature FX, it is all top notch. There are some spots where digital FX were used to augment some of the effects, but it in no way down plays or ruins the awesomeness of what is being shown. The creatures were amazing and each creature scene felt like a love letter to Rob Bottin (John Carpenter's The Thing). On the FX front this movie was perfection in every sense of the word.

Alec Gillis does an outstanding job as both writer and director of the film. The story flows naturally and doesn't come off at any point as a contrived unrealistic series of events. What is even more amazing is the fact that this is Gillis' first feature in the director's chair. His first outing comes off as if he is a seasoned pro who has been directing his whole life, not just creating amazing FX.  Working hand-in-hand with Gillis is DP Benjamin Brown who pulls off some gnarly shots and paints a picture that many a horror fan can truly appreciate.

The cast of the film is another area where Harbinger Down shines bright. Lance Henriksen steals the show, just like he has for years. The man could not deliver a bad performance if he tried. His character of Graff/Pop-Pop is played so perfectly that you'd believe Lance Henriksen lived as a crab fishing captain in another life. Adding to the quality of the film is Camille Balsamo as Sadie. She shines just as bright as Lance and brings a softness that every horror film needs to succeed. Matt Winston plays the dickish University Professor to a tee and delivers one of those performances that has you begging for the character to die slowly. The rest of the cast delivers in their respective roles also and by no means should they feel under played.

With all that said my only complaint is this, I wish it was longer. It's not often you get to see a film that gives you a real thrill and when you get that feeling you just want it to last for as long as possible. Also I wouldn't have mined more character development/back story for Big G and Svet, they really become more interesting as the film progresses.

Rating 8.5/10 Stars

If your a Practical Effects lover then this is right up your alley, so check it out now on all VOD platforms. You won't regret it. 

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