I had heard of this movie a while ago, the trailer was decent and interesting but to me it looked like an unofficial sequel to John Carpenter's The Thing. What drew me to it was the team working on it, they were the ones behind the effects of the Alien franchise and boasted that this movie was more like older monster movies with practical effects. I found the trailer for this one on a fluke and then it disappeared for a while. I was pleasantly surprised to discover this on Netflix and sat down to watch it.
The movie starts out rough, from some wonky looking effects to a really bad found footage blurry shaky cam scene before the main credits, I was starting to see why this film had one star on Netflix. The characters were pretty bad as well and I found half of them unlikeable, the one who was like-able to me was Bishop from Aliens (well his actor anyways). Plus there was this funny scene with this giant guy on the team who distracted the scientific jackass of the crew. Putting the boring and bland characters aside, do we at least have a scary movie?
Well I have to say, the creature(s) in this movie are interesting but unfortunately they felt like they belonged in John Carpenter's The Thing. This is both a good thing and a bad thing, the good thing is, the creatures look pretty damn cool and pretty creepy, but the bad news is I couldn't help but feel like I've seen this before. The creature does have some interesting abilities, one in particular is very deadly and I won't spoil it for anyone. I have to praise the practical effects for the most part, but because of an over reliance on practical effects sometimes I feel that it limited what they could do. Certain monster scenes are crazily edited and jarring to get around the limitations of their puppets or animatronics. Also there are times where the effects can look a little silly, the creatures have the same problem as the ones in the Thing, once they manifest and show themselves, they don't move much. Unfortunately this problem is worse in Harbinger Down than it is in the Thing, there are scenes where the creature doesn't do anything but flail about instead of attacking, and this takes some of the tension and menace out of it .
Also the movie mistakes being gross with being creepy/ scary. The monsters themselves look creepy and gross (copious amounts of flailing tentacles tend to do that), since they don't do much and the film lacks real suspense like the older movies its trying to emulate, this makes the movie mediocre. Also the movie builds suspense in the first half of the film but it forgoes this for the rest of the film after the first attack. This means there's very little breaks between monster attacks no time for suspense. One positive I guess I have to give this movie is the lack of jump scares, rather than going for the easiest and cheapest way to scare the audience they decide against it but once again they don't do enough to make this a scary film.
A lot of effort was put into the effects, the movie was reasonably well shot and the plot didn't have a ton of stupid characters. However this movie feels more like a glorified demo for their practical effects instead of telling a good story. The movie lacks execution, it needed something, something older horror movies like Alien had in order for me to say it's a great creature film. Come for the practical effects and that's really it.