I admittedly am a pretty big Lance Henriksen fan. So as soon as I heard he was starring in a practical effect creature feature I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy. Harbinger Down is a Kickstarted horror feature that managed to raise over $380,000 and promised backers a nautical based sci-fi horror movie that shuns digital effects and homages the great monster movie of the 80’s (see: The Thing) and? It more than delivered.
Sadie (played by Camille Balsamo) and her University teammates join her grandfather (Lance Henriksen) on his freighter in order to study whales. All is well (or as well as life can be on a crabbing expedition) until Sadie notices the whales acting strangely to something frozen in the ice. When the crew extracts the object they discover it is a Russian space capsule with long deceased crew members inside. As Sadie and her University professor argue over rights to the discovery, the ice melts away and the extra-territorial terror that had been lurking in the sea for all these years is released.
The makers of Harbinger Down made it pretty clear they were fans of Carpenter’s The Thing and it’s blatantly obvious. Between the weather, the plot and the victims bursting open after being infected by the lifeforms, Harbinger Down is basically The Thing on Ice. That being said, while it is a fun homage, it misses its mark in a few areas. The story jumps around a lot, rushing scenes from one to the next and while the practical effects are pretty damn cool when you can see them, it’s only when you can see them. Considering freighters aren’t very well-lit it makes sense, but it would have been nice to marvel in a bit more of the actual monster and its numerous transformations than only catching bits and pieces of it during the second half of the film.
I wasn’t going into Harbinger Down expecting a blockbuster, but despite its flaws I really enjoyed the film. Although the plot is familiar, the actors pull together as a solid cast, there are a few worthwhile death scenes (see: being sucked into a tube) and the monster effects (beware the water bears!) were pretty decent. If you’re in the mood for a more modern throwback to old school sci-fi and horror I would recommend you take a shot with Harbinger Down.