Wednesday 15 July 2015

Harbinger Down ... Icy Cold War

HORROR film Harbinger Down attempts to recreate the fear and distrust that permeated The Thing. In reality, however, it's a cheap American attack on Russians, blaming them for a science experiment that goes wrong and for bringing back to Earth a bug that transforms into an ugly and gargantuan alien.
    In short, don't trust Russians.

    This film could easily have been made during the Cold War, and with Russia allegedly backing separatists who annexed eastern Ukraine, which prompted a deluge of criticism from the US, relations between the two great enemies are going to get colder.
   Cold plays a big part in writer-director Alec Gillis' film, as it's set on an crabbing ship near Alaska. The people on the ship, called Harbinger, use liquid nitrogen to freeze the alien, and the film's denouement shows the ship crashing into an iceberg bigger than the one that brought down the 'Titanic' (Titanic).
   Let's talk about the alien. The nasty bugger can change shape from liquid to solid and vice-versa. Its tentacles reach deep into the ship and it uses its human victims as hosts (think Aliens). An incongruous scene shows the alien with legs running towards a  human.
   And if the alien's not bad enough, the crabbing crew has a middle-aged svelte Russian blonde (Milla Bjorn) who can outdrink the humongous American Big G (Winston James Francis) and even get him in a leghold.
The thing appears in 'Harbinger Down'. 
   Once the alien takes root on the ship, it creates tension between the people on board, including pretty brunette Sadie (Camille Balsamo), a university student studying whales with fellow student Ronelle (Giovannie Samuels) and Prof Stephen (Matt Winston).
    Stephen's a pompous ass who demands that Sadie hand over her salvage rights for finding a Russian space capsule to him and their university.
    The capsule has been frozen in ice since 1982, but Sadie dissecting the dead astronaut in it opens a can of worms.
   Soon, the academic trio are on tenterhooks, with the ship's crew members, including Sadie's grandfather, Captain Graff (Lance Henriksen), also treading carefully.
    No one knows who's infected, with a black crew member telling everyone that he's not infected, which raises the eyebrows of the Russian. She soon burns him up, in a scene that's reminiscent of The Thing.
   The captain tells Sadie to not let fear get the better of her, and it's nice to see her fighting for her survival and being brave, but the film's B-grade feel and anti-Russian sentiment make it one to be forgotten.

2 out of 5 stars




  1. Awful film...what's with the cancer story and the wife's ashes...that's the only time the plot breaks with Alien