Sometimes it’s funny. Even though being a huge horror nerd, there are a lot of times I don’t really pay attention to the news sites or what is coming out or the dozens of rumors always floating around the net. Too easy to get caught up in all that crap, so I just let it pass over me. So I was really surprised to find out about a new film that comes out next week on VOD and a limited released. The film is called Harbinger Down and stars Lance Henriksen. It was written and directed by Alec Gillis and produced (amongst others) by Tom Woodruff Jr., both of which run Amalgamated Dynamics, and how have worked in the effects industry for years. They both worked for Stan Winston for years and worked on countless classic movies throughout their careers, from most of the Alien films, the Tremors flicks, and tons more.
Amalgamated Dynamics were hired to work on the effects in the 2011 film The Thing, but as we all later found out, most of their practical effects work was replaced with CGI for the final cut of the film. Needless to say, like us, they were not too happy with the end results. So they decided to make their own movie, using a Kickstarter fun, and create Harbinger Down, which according to a statement on its IMDB page, “features entirely practical creature effects created through the use of animatronics, prosthetic makeup, stop motion and miniature effects. There are zero computer animated monsters in this film.”
You can watch the trailer online and see that it doesn’t take long to realize that it seems more than a bit similar to Carpenter’s The Thing. After reading a few reviews online as well, it doesn’t sound like it is getting too much positive press either. But (hopefully) we all know that online reviews don’t mean squat when it comes to your own personal opinion, so I’m not put off by the negative posts. But I will stand up, applaud, and promote any movie that has decided to use practical effects to create their monster. I’m thrilled that these guys were so passionate about their work that they wanted to show Hollywood that you could do a monster movie with these kind of effects and make it work. I’m more than willing to give it my 90 minutes to see for myself, but also to show support for Gillis and Woodruff Jr. for at least trying to show that they believe that practical effects have not become the thing of the past. So for that alone, well done, guys. Well done, indeed.
But beyond all of that, back in reality, a movie neds to be reviewed as a whole, no matter who’s involved, who’s starring, whether the effects are CGI or practical. Does the movie work? That is the bar that all films should be held to, and is what I will do when I do sit down and watch it. Yes, there can be a varying degree of success, depending on different elements, but right now, I’m very hopeful. So as they say, the proof will be in the pus. Or something like that.