“The ineptitude shown in this movie is almost unbelievable.”
Do you remember The Thing? No not that one, the shitty one released in 2011. Remember how all of the effects in that movie looked terrible because they were largely digital? Well it wasn’t always supposed to be like that. See, Amalgamated Dynamics, a visual effects company, was hired to create practical effects for the film but then were surprised when all of those effects were replaced by digital ones in the final cut. Realizing that people want to see what they are capable of, Amalgamated Dynamics went on to produce their own movie, with all of the practical effects that you could want. Enter Harbinger Down. The only problem with Harbinger Down is that it is fucking awful. Harbinger Down follows a group of scientist who take passage on a crabbing boat to follow whales. Then they find a Soviet-era spaceship frozen in ice. But there’s an alien on it, I guess. And then they have to survive. I think.
So what sucked about Harbinger Down? Pretty much everything the movie had to offer. Right off the bat the movie felt very amateur. Now this isn’t necessarily a knock against all indie films, but usually there is some effort to make your movie not look like shit. This effort was apparently not made in the production of Harbinger Down. Harbinger Down looks like it was made by a group of high school students over the weekend. There is very little understanding of what goes into making a movie, and even less understanding of what goes into making a good movie. It’s things like the camerawork that really tipped me off to this point early on. The direction in Harbinger Down is not good. The shot composition is very amateur, and the editing only magnifies this fact. Some shots really seem like they were trying to squeeze every second out of their shitty script, but those efforts were futile because the movie only clocks in at 80 minutes. But don’t be mistaken, those 80 minutes feel like a lifetime. What Harbinger Down tries to do is rip off (or what they would like to call “pay homage to”) other, better sci-fi movies. You’ve got everything. Chest-bursters? Check. Shapeshifting alien creature? Check. Lance Henriksen? Check. Harbinger Down tries so hard to either pass off the ideas of others as its own, or make you forgot that you’re watching a shitty movie instead of one of the better ones that it is emulating. Either way, those attempts fail miserably. And there are other things that just scream incompetence as well. One of the best examples, and one of the only things that have made me want to turn off a movie only part-way into the runtime, was the use of the same fucking sound effect for every door on this stupid fucking boat. We get it, old metal doors squeak. You can use that once, and then be done with it. You don’t have to make every door have a sound when it opens, and you definitely shouldn’t be using the same sound over and over again. People will notice, and they will hate you for it. And what makes this worse is the fact that the same fucking sound effect was used for things that aren’t even doors being opened. It’s like they were trying to fuck with everyone watching this shitty movie. A helmet is being taken off? Squeaky door. Someone bumps into a wall? Squeaky door. The ineptitude shown in this movie is almost unbelievable.
And what makes this even worse are the fucking awful performances delivered by all of the cast. Now I don’t hold this against them personally, because I’m sure if I could see the script it wouldn’t be anything to write home about, but the point still stands that these performances were fucking terrible. I’m talking “we need to make this movie in a weekend so that we can get a DVD printed before monday” bad. I’m talking Craigslist “No money, but lots of exposure” bad. The only person who actually could act was Lance Henriksen, and he was either under duress or being payed a lot of money to be there. The latter would explain my next point. So taking into account why this movie was made, what do you think would be the best part of it? The effects? Yeah, that’s what I thought too. These motherfuckers were mad that their effects were replaced with digital effects, so they decided to make their own movie. And what was the prevailing medium of effects in this “superior” film? Oh, they were digital. And they looked much worse than anything in The Thing. Like a fucking child who thinks they know better than any adult, these people (I assume) stormed off to make their own film, only to realize that it’s not as easy as they once thought. Right off the bat you’re hit in the face with effects that are almost insulting; doubly so if you know the history of this movie. I understand the budget was probably tight with Lance Henriksen and all, but next time hire someone more experienced than a fifteen-year old with After Effects on his laptop. Some of these effects weren’t terrible, a few of the creatures were particularly interesting, but that doesn’t matter. When you make a big stink about your work being better than what was portrayed in a film so you go off to make your own film and it turns out like this? Let’s just say that every single person who backed this project on Kickstarter would have a right to be pissed. And what makes this even more insulting is the fact that they thought they could hide the shitty digital effects by hiring a camera operator with Parkinson’s. This was the ultimate “Oh shit, we’re in way over our heads here, try to cover our shame by making the audience nauseous”. It was the final nail in this coffin for me; it was the ultimate throwing in of the towel. They had lost.
If you ever want to watch Harbinger Down to satiate some morbid curiosity, don’t. If you ever have a friend who says “Hey, let’s watch Harbinger Down”, get a new friend. Save yourself from this movie. I took the bullet, so you don’t have to.
I give Harbinger Down an F