Given my insane amounts of love for Turbo Kid, I had already made a commitment to myself to check out any future genre projects starring Munro Chambers, so when I caught wind that he was set to star in Rob Grant's (Alive, Fake Blood) next indie feature, Harpoon, it immediately shot to the top of my heaping must-see list. Thankfully, the folks at DREAD and Epic Pictures were kind enough to provide me with a copy to review.
Before I even get started with this review, I'll just say that I enjoyed Harpoon immensely and I highly recommend you check it out as soon as possible!
In the film, rivalries, dark secrets, and sexual tension emerge when three lifelong friends, Jonah (Munro Chambers), Sasha (Emily Tyra) and Richard (Christopher Gray), become frenemies in the wake of a suspected love triangle and find themselves stranded on Richard's yacht ("The Naughty Buoy") in the middle of the ocean. With plenty of alcohol and very little food and water, emotions run high and their delusions become a reality. As the days stretch on and death seems inevitable, their terrifying truths float to the surface. To give any more plot details away beyond this would risk spoiling some major twists, but trust me when I say, you expect what happens next.
Following last year's festival hit, Alive (read our review), which won over 20 awards during its festival run, writer/director Rob Grant delivers yet another impressive gem with Harpoon, a superb mix of bitter suspense, pitch-black comedy and unnerving violence.
Admittedly, this film would've fallen flat on its face without the stellar performances from its remarkable cast. Richard is an entitled rich boy with anger issues. Jonah is a down on his luck sad sack, whose parents recently died, leaving him with their overwhelming debt and next to nothing. Sasha, Richard's girlfriend, mainly sticks around for her lover's wealth, and frequently deals with the consequences of his fiery temper. Although, she's far from innocent. All three are assholes in their own right, and all three are characters that one would expect to hate. That's not the case here, as the cast delivers their roles with enough humanity, skill and energy to make them likable and intriguing.
Even though Harpoon's cast is its shining element, the film also triumphs in various other ways. Beginning with Grant's nimble direction and clever script. Not once did I find myself being pulled out of the world, nor did I sense any sort of missteps in terms of pacing. Clocking in at a comfortable 83 minutes, the film packs more twists and surprises in its first act than most films manage to squeeze into their entire runtime. The praise doesn't stop there, as cinematographer Charles Hamilton makes the most of the gorgeous seascape and the cramped, almost prison-like innards of the yacht, tip-toeing the line between atmospheric bliss and dread. Composer Michelle Osis provides an invigorating, at times grinding score that's as moody as it is unpleasant, and I mean that in the best possible way. The film's makeup department did a fantastic job with the several instances of practical gore and bloodshed. Also, Harpoon features remarkably sarcastic voiceover narration from Brett Gelman ("Stranger Things", The Other Guys).
Much like Jordan Downey's The Head Hunter, one of my other favorite films of 2019, Harpoon is minimalism at its finest. It's a cunning, witty and razor-sharp gut punch of a film with stand-out performances all around, and unlike the trio of characters in the film, this is one boat ride you won't regret taking. Harpoon is, at its core, a extraordinarily delicious piece of cinematic schadenfreude.
Harpoon is now available on VOD and Blu-ray from DREAD and Epic Pictures. The Blu-ray comes loaded with an audio commentary track, a behind-the-scenes featurette, B-roll footage, deleted scenes, trailers and more.