Known as Harbinger Down everywhere but the UK where it is called Inanimate. The story behind the creation of this movie is as fascinating as the practical creature effects within the movie.
The short version is that the special effects company StudioADI was asked to create practical effects for The Thing prequel in 2011. However in post-production they saw most of their effects replaced with CGI. The crew of StudioADI were upset as this wasn’t the first time this had happened to them so following fan requests, they decided to uploaded videos on YouTube showcasing their effects.
Over-whelmed by the support of fans, the founders of StudioADI, Alec Gillis & Tom Woodruff, Jr decided to make their own film. Harbinger Down/Inanimate was successfully funded via Kickstarter in 2013 & the movie was released in 2015.
Written and directed by Alec Gillis and produced by Tom Woodruff, Jr the movie stars Lance Henriksen & Giovonnie Samuels. The plot surrounds the crew of the commercial fishing vessel, Harbinger discovering a crashed Soviet spacecraft in the ocean.
Upon investigation they discover a dead cosmonaut inside who appears to have died from some form of infection. Thinking they’ve got the find of the century the group end up arguing over who will claim ownership of it.
Unfortunately for them though, the virus that killed the cosmonaut is not dead. The radiation caused by re-entry to the Earth’s atmosphere has mutated it & it’s not long before it starts infecting the crew. What follows is an exciting & visual treat of gory monstrous practical effects with a cast that tries hard to make an uninteresting plot seem better then it is.
The story isn’t really that interesting, it starts off fine but once the virus is free it devolves into a cat & mouse style horror with an odd sub-plot involving Russian infiltration. There is plenty of tension surrounding the creature, it really didn’t need this.
The cast are mostly likeable & the bonding scenes between the crew are believable. There really isn’t much criticism of the cast beyond a few who are clearly there to just die quickly.
In the spirit of The Thing & Alien, Harbinger Down certainly puts the effort in where it counts. It’s impossible to not be impressed by the effects here. StudioADI are absolute pros at this & it’s hilarious that those involved with The Thing prequel would have dumped this stuff for CGI instead. It’s so much fun to watch bodies twist, crack & break open as the virus shape shifts inside humans. It’s extremely graphic so if you don’t have much of a stomach for this kind of thing, you may not enjoy this!
Harbinger Down is a lot of fun, a throw-back to a type of film & effects that big studios seem to fear now. It makes very little sense when you see such great results here.