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Harbinger Down (2015)

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6/10: The Other Thing
Sunday, August 9, 2015

So this is a relatively modest budget production with an interesting history behind the reason why it got made.Essentially, the makers are practical effects guys, and their work on the 2011 reboot/prequel of John Carpenter's The Thing was replaced post-production with CGI effects. See my review of that movie for my thoughts on how that replacement worked out! Anyhow, the effects guys were, understandably a bit miffed at the perception that everything has to be CGI these days and so decided to crowd-fund a project to show how they can still hold up in our current era of "show all and leave nothing to the imagination" film-making. Hence the existence of Harbinger Down.So how did they do? Is it a hit, or a miss?In truth, it is a bit of both, though the misses are mostly to do with the script and the editing. The effects do hold up surprisingly well. These...

8/10: A cool little Grade B sci-fi/horror monster outing
Saturday, March 23, 2019

A handful of folks on a crabbing vessel in the middle of the ocean find themselves in considerable jeopardy when a lethal shape-shifting organism gets lose on board the ship.Writer/director Alec Gillis keeps the familiar, but still enjoyable and engrossing story moving along at a brisk pace, maintains a grimly serious tone throughout, brings a right-on mean'n'lean no-nonsense sensibility to the premise, generates a good deal of tension, and makes nice use of the cramped claustrophobic setting. The always excellent Lance Henriksen anchors the movie with his trademark rock-solid professional presence as gruff skipper Graff. The rest of the cast for the most part also acquit themselves well, with especially praiseworthy contributions from Camille Balsamo as the perky Sadie, Matt Winston as obnoxious pompous jerk Stephen, Winston James Francis as amiable giant Guillaume, Milla Bjorn as the scrappy Svet, and Edwin H. Bravo as the superstitious Atka. The funky old school practical...

6/10: Ripoff of The Thing (1982); not as good
Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Three Acts:The initial tableaux: In 1982, a Russian manned probe re-enters Earth's atmosphere, something besides the cosmonaut is on board. The probe ditches in the sea, to the north, near Alaska.In current times, graduate student Sadie, professor and project leader Stephen, and lab tech Ronelle have a grant to study the effect of global warming on Beluga whales in the Arctic. Sadie's grandfather, Captain Graff, agrees to take the academics on his crab boat Harbinger to do the study. Graff and his crew (Dock, Svet, Big G, Atka, Bowman) will catch crab at night. The academics have the daytime to study the whales. Early in this process, they ping the lost probe, then bring it aboard. They discover the extra on board was an engineered organism.Delineation of conflicts: The organism is glad to be awake and have a lot to eat. Stephen wants full credit for the discovery, even though Sadie discovered it...

7/10: Spoilers follow
Saturday, December 2, 2017

Put very simply, this is a story heavily influenced by 'The Thing (1982)' featuring Lance Henrikson and series of special effects refreshingly untouched by CGI. To that end, the monstrous and monsters look pleasingly 1980s in style. That's not to say 'old school effects' are unimpressive: although slightly 'cheesy', they are powerful in scale and charmingly gooey. Also, such moments are joyfully free of the 'cartoony' aspect of computer generated effects. Director and writer Alec Gillis seems so proficient that it is something of a surprise he chose to limit his resources to a story with such obvious inspiration.As you may expect, infighting amongst the group – many of whom have their own agendas – provides some drama when the monsters are otherwise engaged. As always, Henrikson – playing deadpan Graff – is a mighty presence. He seems to have made his professional home in films like this, and thrives in them

6/10: An open Thing rip-off, but still fun
Sunday, March 25, 2018

I admit to having a huge love of John Carpenter's THE THING, a love which extends to the various THING rip-offs which have come out of the years. One of the cheaper of these is INANIMATE, a typical budget story in which a team of student researchers head into the frozen Bering Sea and discover a downed Russian spacecraft. It was originally launched as part of an experiment but has brought back something awful with it. The great thing about this predictable movie is the special effects, which look fantastic and were done without a single frame of CGI, something very rare in this day and age. The cast is nothing special, aside from reliable old-timer Lance Henriksen who actually gets plenty of screen time, which I was more than pleased about. The film is on the level of a typical B-movie but has enough suspense to see it through even if it is very familiar

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