GORE IN THE STORE
Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews - By Fans For Fans
THE HARBINGER ****
Directed by Andy Mitton.
Starring Gabby Beans, Emily Davis, Raymond Anthony Thomas, Cody Braverman.
Horror, US, 87 minutes.
Reviewed as part of Arrow FrightFest ‘22
For a large number of us the days of COVID locking us up in our homes seem a surprisingly distant memory. Andy Mitton brings those time of uncertainty roaring back with THE HARBINGER, an ingenious supernatural tale set in those days of social bubbles, self-quarantining, hand washing and bleaching your groceries when news of a vaccine seemed little more than a pipe dream. He brings those not-so-distant days when the world came to a halt straight back to our attention, making for an atmosphere that is already unsettling before the titular spectral character makes its first appearance.
Sheltering at home with her ailing father and brother, Monique decides to make the risky move of breaking quarantine to visit her distant friend Mavis. Stuck on her own in her apartment with only the constant sound of ambulance sirens to distract her, Mavis is suffering from terrifying nightmares involving a nightmarish figure who bears a striking similarity to the hooded and masked doctors of the Great Plague. With no-one to turn to she makes the desperate move of reaching out to Monique. Thinking that her friend’s problems are a mental issue, Monique quickly realises that Mavis’s nightmares may be just as contagious as the virus that is wreaking havoc outside.
Following on from the impressive THE WITCH IN THE WINDOW, Andy Mitton further builds up his already impressive body of work with this unnerving tale of the supernatural that effortlessly melds the concerns of the distant past and the present. His skill with creating sympathetic characters, which was so evident in his previous film is in full effect here. Monique and Mavis are fully realised characters, aided by the excellent performances of Gabby Beans as Monique and Emily Davis as the traumatised Mavis. The supporting cast are also finely etched, particularly Mavis’s antagonistic neighbour who loudly refuses to wear a mask and keep her distance. What could be nothing more than a stock character in any other film gets her own mini-arc, an impressive feat for a film that already does so much in its brief running time of eighty-seven minutes.
Mitton makes every minute count, packing so much into the film that other bigger budgeted horror films can only struggle to. The already interesting premise is expanded upon in surprising ways that heighten the dread and tension scene by scene, even managing to inject drama into an expository scene involving a Zoom call. The scares are excellently constructed as reality and dreams merge together in ever more deceiving ways that recall a more horror-tinged version of Christopher Nolan’s INCEPTION.
A highlight of this year’s packed out FrightFest, THE HARBINGER proves Mitton as a writer and director, as well as editor and composer, who is getting better with every film. His way with character and storytelling culminating here with a haunting pay off that lodges itself in your brain prove this beyond any doubt. Presently one of the best kept secrets in horror cinema this melancholy and scary film threatens to unleash his talents on an even bigger audience in the future.
Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews
By Fans For Fans