Friday, October 09, 2015

31 Days of Halloween - Day 9 - Movie 2

A group of grad students studying climate change effects on Beluga whales, hitches a ride aboard an arctic crab boat. The boat hauls aboard a frozen extraterrestrial creature able to shape shift and infect the crew members, replicating them in the process. This leads to a lot of paranoia during the intense hunt for the creature, complicated by the presence of a Russian spy whose objective was to obtain this organism all along.

If Harbinger Down (2015) sounds like a combination of Alien and The Thing on a boat, it should. The film is the brain child of special effects men Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff, Jr., who worked on all of the Alien films, except the first one, and who were disappointed to learn that much of the practical creature effects they created for The Thing (2011) wound up being replaced by digital effects.

After sharing their effects reel from The Thing online, they were encouraged to create their own practical effects oriented film, and with kickstarter funding and additional money, Harbinger Down was the result.

The film clearly doesn't have anywhere near the same budget as either franchise it pays homage to (with a number of references), but looks more expensive than it is. It also takes itself seriously enough that the viewer can, too. The script is decent, and so are the characters and cast. Harbinger Down doesn't break any new ground, but demonstrates a genuine fondness for the era of practical transformation and creature effects, from the days where inventive make-up artists wowed audiences and made anything seem possible, before any computer could even come close.

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