Welcome back to another review, folks! Today we’ll be taking in a low budget little masterpiece that I thoroughly enjoyed. What makes it special? Aliens? Nope. Zombies? No. This little piece of film is about the adorable little microbe known as the waterbear. Let’s take a look at Harbinger Down.

I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again, and I’ll say it as long as I remember how to: Practical effects will always trump CGI. And I must give kudos to the makers for understanding this. Let’s begin the setup this odd tale of frozen horror. We start off in 1982 with a Russian cosmonaut falling to earth, calling for help, I presume, and having pink yogurt leaked onto his face. I don’t blame him, yogurt on my face would upset me, too. He disappears into the clouds above the arctic circle and we have our very first scene of the movie. Way to make it vague, guys.

Next up our buffet of people start to introduce themselves, names don’t matter, of course, because they’re all just human sized happy meals. Our title gives us a Hans Zimmer “BWOM” on to the screen and we’re into the ship of the movie title: The Harbinger. The crew is introduced, bad accents and all. Everyone say ‘Hi’ Lance Henrikson! Or as he will always be known to the Sci-Fi world: Bishop! Exposition is the name of the game as things are explained and you’re simply cringing at some of the attempts at acting. And, just for safety, let’s throw in a fart joke. More exposition and B-roll of ‘Deadliest Catch’ try to convince us that we’re really on a ship. We’re not, and the crabs are only mentioned once more. That’s not a plot point, it’s a plot afterthought.

The plot rears its ugly head! Just as the view of the CGI whales was getting good, too. Something in the ice caught the attention of Main Character Girl, and they grab it. And I do love the switching of camera angles to the discovery channel type narrative. The line “Some things should stay frozen.” could’ve been a great omen, but it’s passed over like a sneeze in the wind. We find out what happened to our Russian cosmonaut: He’s the chunk of ice they just grabbed. And I do have to admire the fact that the captain can look at the helmet of said cosmonaut and instantly tell it’s been frozen since the ’80’s. Maybe Soviet Identification-101 was a requisite of his captain schooling. I, once more, blame Michigan State.

After more exposition, and the main love interest whispering his every line, and I mean every line. We finally get to the autopsy of the fallen astronaut. Or, rather, the bad wax statue that is supposed to represent him. DUN DUN DUNNN!!! Russian McBadchick reveals that the yogurt that leaked on our space guys face was actually waterbears. To which we all responded with an unenthusiastic, “Okay.” Which is followed up with the subtle foreshadowing through the “Double Cross” vodka brand. After retrieving a sample from the mansicle, spouting puns bad enough to make even the punniest person groan, we get the plot moving along. Finally. We’re a good chunk of time into this movie and no one has died a horrible, grizzly death yet!

There we go! Tentacles come to the rescue and squish the head of the mechanic, marking the first death. And we’re back to explaining stuff. Oh, come on, guys! You can’t start up the mayhem and have it just cut off! If you’re gonna start the party, and the killing, keep it going! No amount of brooding music can make up for poor pacing. After some unnecessary yelling our resident jerk professor becomes infected with waterbears, and turns red, sprouts four huge flesh tubes on his back and spews out more death yogurt. Still cringing from that bit of ick, we get a few little homages to what probably inspired this movie: The Thing. And like The Thing, lines are drawn, and sides are chosen. Then all of that is instantly forgotten.

Ladies, and gentlemen! Let’s meet our creature! Attached to the ceiling, and the cosmonaut, it instantly eats the Inuit of the movie. Bishop steals a line from “Jaws” and we continue on, trying to figure out who’s infected and who’s not. Someone asks just how smart the thing is, and before you can say ‘How could they cut the power, man, they’re animals!’ it cuts the power. They go after the creature with liquid nitrogen, freeze it, and continue to advance the plot, which also seems to be frozen. Russian McBadchick reveals her true purpose, and an infected crew member burns on the deck. We find out that Main Character Girls mother died, to what end, I have no idea. A random tentacle eats the black girl and we finally start the murder spree…..I hope.

The Cosmonauts reanimated lower torso sprouts a head of its own and takes down Russian McBadchick. I retyped that sentence three times, but they all came out just as bad. And now we take another break from our monsters to bring you some plot device involving explosives. You don’t care, I don’t care. Main Character Girl goes for a dip in waterbear sludge for the explosives. More tentacles! Another creature appears and we lose Bishop, uh, the captain; who instructs the crew to stay away from him, but has them all join him on the deck two minutes later. Russian McBadchick comes back for one last scare as an infected, and we move into the final scenes.

No spoilers, here, folks, but I will recommend to keep watching. Is it a bad movie, is it a good movie? Well, it’s a creature movie with a lot of charm. Mostly practical effects, and the old school charm of older movies like “The Thing” and even “Tremors” earns this creature feature major bonus points. It has some major pacing problems, and some of the acting can be hokey, but all in in all, you can tell the entire crew is invested and wants it to succeed, and it’s that little touch of passion that makes movies like this gold. Cons aside, it’s a fun romp with some surprises up its sleeve, and I recommend checking it out on Netflix to relive some classic monster magic without having to resort to classic monster movies. Thanks for reading, folks! Stay Tuned!

roadside attractions

  • Blue ice balls.
  • Kill it with…ice?
  • Aw. It’s kind of cute.
  • Legs don’t fail me now!
  • Bishop has aged.
  • No longer cute!
totals

8

blood

BLOOD

Good amounts of blood, guts, and gross icky-ness.

0

blood

BREASTS

None. None at all.

10

beast

BEASTS

Who knew bears were so terrifying?

8.5 OVERALL
dripper

Watch the trailer for Harbinger Down

trailers
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