Harbinger Down (2015)

In 2010, ADI (Amalgamated Dynamics) the effects company working on the prequel to John Carpenter’s The Thing, watched in horror as the film’s producers covered their practical effects with CGI (I find it somewhat ironic that the film’s DVD extras includes extensive coverage of their on-set work without noting how little of it got used!).

They got mad enough that they launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise enough money to make their own monster movie with no CGI. Harbinger Down is the result.

It seems almost unfair to complain that a film like this is little more than an excuse to show off some seriously grotesque creature creations and horrific bodily mutations.  That’s sorta the point, isn’t it?

And they certainly deliver that.  The effects are impressive, gooey and inventive, the creature appropriately horrible and it’s only occasionally let down by some of the miniatures (one of the shots of the Harbinger trapped in the ice looked particularly toy-like).  Okay, we know it’s more or less the same creature as in The Thing, but we pretty much expected that, too.

But there is more here than just effects:  the film is packed with sly references to classic horror and SF films, and they even dare to offer a (somewhat) plausible scientific explanation of how the biology of a shapeshifting Thing-type creature might work (somewhat).  And you have to give them a shout out for working in one of the stranger and more exotic creatures in the world, the Tardigrade (aka, “Water Bear”)  Okay, they don’t do much with it, but it’s nice to see it at all.

Oh, well.  Just shut your brain off and give in to it.  It offers more than enough fun and even a hint of brains.

Just a hint, yes.  But then, what did you expect?


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