Harpoon‘s plot can be summed up deceptively simply – “Three friends go out on a boat and have a really bad time” – but that would be doing this film a massive injustice. It’s all about the execution, after all, and Harpoon delivers. How to define this film…? It’s got drama, it’s got horror, and it’s got comedy but to label it as just one of them would be to give a false impression. It’s too horrible to be a comedy, too gory to be a drama, but not quite horrible enough to be a horror movie. It’s a tightly shot, claustrophobic mix of genres that proves to be a compelling watch.
The story focuses on three friends. Trust-fund brat Richard (Christopher Gray), possessor of a violent temper; his girlfriend Sasha (Emily Tyra), who serves as mediator and referee of the group; and finally Jonah (Munro Chambers), the best friend, the guy who’s never had it easy in his life. The story opens with Richard laying a beatdown on Jonah, thinking that he’s cheating on him with Sasha. When it turns out he got the wrong end of the stick he apologises by taking them out on his boat for some fun in the sun at his expense. Things start to grow more serious though, when the boat refuses to start and the trio find themselves drifting out to sea with limited water and supplies. As hunger sets in and tempers fray, all their stresses and secrets will come out into the open.
One interesting thing to note about this film is that there is a fourth character, one we never meet in the flesh. This film is divided into chapters, and each chapter has the voice of the narrator to help explain things. Played by Brett Gelman, the narrator introduces the characters and their predicaments, as well as taking a certain sadistic glee in the events of the film. The best part is definitely when he lays out all the things the characters have done that are considered bad luck by nautical folk. Setting sail on a Friday? Bad luck. Having a woman on board? Bad luck. Having a black bag on board? Bad luck. On and on it goes.
Fair play to this film, it does not go where you might think. Even when a viewer might think they have things figured out, it’s almost certain that they don’t. The performances from the cast are universally stellar, especially from Munro Chambers who has arguably the toughest job with his particular performance.
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This Blu-ray release is Arrow’s standard fare, and that is meant as a compliment! Arrow always do a superb job with their releases and this is no exception, with plenty of extra content for fans to get their teeth into that includes: Audio commentary by writer/director Rob Grant and producers Michael Peterson and Kurtis David Harder; Director’s psychedelic audio commentary by Rob Grant; Dropping Anchor: The Making of Harpoon; Deleted Scenes with audio commentary by Rob Grant; and Diving Deeper, B-roll footage with audio commentary by Rob Grant And still more!
Harpoon will not appeal to everyone, certainly. Those folks who like their horror to be horror, their comedies to be comedies and so on will likely find the blend of tones here difficult to get along with, but as a whole it simply works. Harpoon takes you on a genre-defying ride from beginning to end, and it deserves to find an audience and a place on people’s shelves.
Harpoon is out now on Blu-ray from Arrow Video.