18th Jan2023

‘The Harbinger’ VOD Review

by Alain Elliott

Stars: Gabby Beans, Cody Braverman, Emily Davis, Ray Anthony Thomas, Myles Walker | Written and Directed by Andy Mitton

I think (my memory is generally terrible) The Harbinger is the first film I have seen where the pandemic has played a big and important part in the story.

In the movie, Monique is currently quarantining with her family during the pandemic. But when her oldest friend, Mavis, reaches out in a state of fear, she chooses to visit her to help out. Mavis is suffering from nightmares in which she can’t wake up from, sometimes even days are passing and a demon – The Harbinger – is the one haunting her. Monique soon discovers the nightmares are contagious and they both must find a way to defeat the demon.

The pandemic part of the movie is used really well. It gives a reason for the characters to be where they need to be and sometimes do the actions they do. It’s not something that the story relies on but it didn’t feel gimmicky at all. It’s also surprising how people wearing masks seems perfectly normal already!

The nightmare/dream sequences, which are obviously important but also take up a good chunk of the running time, look great. They don’t really try to hide that the scenes are dreams but it doesn’t take anything away from them knowing. They’re, rightly so, the creepiest parts of the movie. The film throughout has a great and scary atmosphere but the nightmares even more so. This is in big part because of The Harbinger itself. Like a slightly twisted and more terrifying version of the plague doctor with the long beak-like mask. It’s a very cool horror villain look that I’m surprised hasn’t been used more often in the genre.

Although there are clear influences on display here, with the villain, the pandemic and lots more going on, The Harbinger does feel like a refreshing horror movie. Not quite slasher, not quite a demon movie, not quite a ghost story. It’s certainly something new. The influences are obvious. There’s always going to be a Nightmare on Elm Street vibe when you have your villain appears when the characters are sleeping. And when we discover that talking about the demon or even seeing a drawing of it could possible cause you to start seeing him in your dreams, you suddenly get a Ring vibe to the movie too. I actually really liked that part of the film and it makes the last thirty minutes really intriguing.

Gabby Beans as Monique, is really good in the lead role, her character has everything, emotionally and often physically, thrown at her and Beans is more than up to the task of portraying it all.

Some eagle-eyed viewers will see where the film is going before its conclusion but it is still a brave way to end the movie. There’s no happy ending here in what is a slightly depressing and dark movie.

This isn’t a movie to put a smile on your face but horror fans often don’t want that anyway, and this is a much more challenging movie than your everyday genre affair. The Harbinger is both scarier and more emotionally-charged than most modern horror movies.

*** 3/5

The Harbinger is released on digital platforms and VOD on Monday, January 23rd 2023 courtesy of Signature Entertainment.


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