Movie Review: Harpoon – Whale Watching Massacre


Harpoon: Whale Watching Massacre (2009)
Directed by Júlíus Kemp
Starring Gunnar Hansen, Pihla Viitala, Nae, Terence Anderson, Aymen Hamdouchi, Carlos Takeshi, Miwa Yanagizawa, Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir, Guðlaug Ólafsdóttir, Snorri Engilbertsson, Ragnhildur Steinunn Jónsdóttir, Helgi Björnsson, Guðrún Gísladóttir

When I first was told about this movie, that it was a slasher film that takes place on a whaling boat in Iceland, and that it was the “best Icelandic slasher movie on a boat ever made”, it kind of gets one’s attention, even as absurd as it might sound. I mean, even the title alone tells you what it is. But you know, it really is the best Icelandic slasher movie on a boat ever made!


Sure, the slasher sub-genre is one that has been done and re-done so many times that one would think it would be impossible to do a new one that didn’t tread on the ground that hasn’t been stepped on before…many times before. But this is one of those rare instances where does just that, giving the viewer something that we haven’t exactly seen before. Sure, the same themes are still there, but in a completely different and interesting (yet twisted) way.


The story is about a group of tourists from different parts of the globe who are in Iceland to go out on a whale watching boat ride. It seems that because of groups like Greenpeace and other nature’s right groups, these small fishing villages have been hurt financially because they can no longer go whale hunting, but are forced to just give tours to foreigners to see the whales. Of course, this has not set well with some of the locals. So as the boatful of hopeful sightseers departs the harbor, with Gunnar Hansen as the ship’s captain, all seems to be going fine, other than he can’t seem to find any whales for his guests to actually see. Next thing you know, one of the drunken passengers does something that causes them to not only be on their own, but stranded in the ocean. Lucky for them, another boat comes by to help them. As they all cross over to this other boat, there seems to be language problem. But soon enough, everyone is completely understanding of what is going on, even though they might not understand why. And this is where the film explodes into a terrific nightmare.


This is a fun movie. Sure, we’re not going to break any new ice with the basic plot of the movie, but because the setting is a whaling ship off the coast of Iceland, and because the plot really keeps us guessing, it really does stand out a lot more than one would expect. There is a fair amount of blood and guts that will keep the gorehounds happy. Nothing too extreme, but some good old fashion splatter that is fun, some of which you won’t even see coming.


One of the things that I really liked is the way the story keeps involving and changing. While some of the characters are ones that we’re obviously not supposed to like and they set up them with the different personalities, we’re never really sure who the hero or ‘final girl’ really is. Once you realize that everyone is up for grabs, it really does keep your attention, because anything goes. To me, that makes a much more interesting movie.



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