06th Oct2019

Grimmfest 2019: ‘Harpoon’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Munro Chambers, Christopher Gray, Emily Tyra | Written and Directed by Rob Grant

harpoon-poster

When Richard’s girlfriend Sasha and best friend Jonah give him a spear gun for his birthday, he wants to try it out straight away. The three of them set out for a day trip on a boat, but suspicion and jealousy soon start to get the upper hand. When the boat’s engine fails with no supplies on board, a nerve-wracking struggle for survival ensues that spares nobody’s secrets – or blood.

Wealthy Richard (Christopher Gray) is prone to fits of violent anger, particularly when he believes his girlfriend Sasha (Emily Tyra) is cheating on him with his best friend Jonah (Munro Chambers) — who’s been having worse luck than even his Biblical namesake. Once they reassure him that his fears are unfounded, Richard invites Sasha and Jonah on an excursion aboard his yacht The Naughty Buoy to make amends. What starts out as a pleasure cruise becomes a fateful trip when festering suspicions and resentments bubble to the surface, and the trio become stranded on the open sea with a dead motor, extremely limited food and water, and one of them grievously injured.

Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe and the [bizarrely] true story of Richard Parker and the cannibalistic death he suffered at the hands of his crew mates after the sinking of the Mignonette, which also inspired the name of the tiger in Life of Pi(!), Harpoon is a three-character play wrote big on the screen, one that forces its performers to carry the tale through the lulls, the quiet moments and the tension… And there’s plenty of tension. There’s also a lot of VERY black comedy! The kind of black comedy that makes the situation within seem even bleaker, even nastier and even funnier. So sardonic is this film, it’s hard to believe it was made by an American! I joke of course, writer/director Rob Grant is Canadian!

But this film is not all laughs. Harpoon actually gets grimer and nastier the longer it goes on as writer/director Rob Grant unspools his film slowly and with purpose until it reaches a crescendo of violence, ultimately ending on blackest of black comedy notes – and one that, honestly, is the only fair outcome for this tale of misery masquerading as happiness. Thankfully leads Munro Chambers (giving THE standout performance of the film), Christopher Gray and Emily Tyra carry off this story with aplomb, really getting their teeth into their respective roles and bringing out the [eventual] nuances of the characters and the fractured realtionship between the trio.

**** 4/5

Harpoon screened at Grimmfest 2019 on Sunday October 6th.

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