While studying the effects of global warming on a pod of whales, grad students on a crabbing vessel and its crew uncover frozen Soviet space shuttle and unintentionally release a monstrous organism from it.
A group of grad students have booked passage on the crabbing boat Harbinger to study the effects of global warming on a pod of Belugas in the Bering Sea. When the ship's crew dredges up a recently thawed piece of old Soviet space wreckage, things get downright deadly. It seems that the Russians experimented with tardigrades, tiny resilient animals able to withstand the extremes of space radiation. The creatures survived, but not without mutation. Now the crew is exposed to aggressively mutating organisms. And after being locked in ice for 3 decades, the creatures aren't about to give up the warmth of human companionship.Written by
(at around 14 mins) When the crew first discover the craft, and investigate inside, Graff asks "Is that a man in there, or something?" This exact line was spoken by Doctor Copper in John Carpenter's The Thing (1982). See more »
(at around 12 mins) When the crew of The Harbinger raise the 'object' shortly into the film, they claim it is encased in 'old ice' (due to the visible blue colour). Indeed, due to compression over many hundreds/thousands of years by 'newer ice' forming on top, this would be the case. However, according to the opening sequence; the object/craft in question crashed in 1982, and would unlikely have been there long enough for the necessary ice build-up and compression needed to give it the blue colour. See more »
The Harbinger is a crab fishing ship sailing in the Bering sea. The captain is Bill Graff (ever reliable Lance Henriksen), and on board are students looking to study the effects of climate change on the lives of beluga whales. One of the students is Bills' own granddaughter, Sadie (Camille Balsamo). Soon they discover something interesting inside an ice floe: the long missing remains of a Soviet space capsule, a perfectly preserved cosmonaut...and something else, a malevolent life form that can change forms and liquify at will. Trapped on this ship with nowhere to go, Bill, Sadie, and others realize that they all could have been infected by this thing.
"Harbinger Down" was made by veteran makeup and creature effects creators Alec Gillis (making his writing / directing debut) and Tom Woodruff Jr. as a response to seeing all their hard work for the prequel to John Carpenters' "The Thing" replaced with CGI. That frustration is understandable, but the result is a pretty routine genre entry. Gillis's script is under developed and populated with lame characters, especially the idiotic, jealous professor played by Matt Winston (son of the late, great effects maestro Stan Winston). The character stuff in this movie, in general, is of the eye rolling variety, and Gillis fares a little better with the technical aspects of filmmaking.
He's able to generate some decent suspense, and the atmosphere is pretty impressive for the budget. Obviously, this was made as a direct tribute to "The Thing" (it even begins on June 25, 1982, the date that Carpenters' classic debuted in theatres), and it can't quite exploit the element of paranoia that the earlier film did so well. Some fans may appreciate that it's a quickly paced story that runs a mere 82 minutes, but others will likely wish that it had been fleshed out more.
As a showcase for creature effects that were *supposedly* 100% practical, it does a passable job, but the effects are often under lit, and none of them are really going to blow the audience away.
Chalk this one up as a well intentioned miss.
Five out of 10.
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