While most small-scale high-seas thrillers I’ve watched in recent years turned out to be a little too pedestrian for my tastes, Rob Grant’s own Harpoon proves itself a cut above others. Turbo Kid and Knuckleball star Munro Chambers has become one of the most upstanding performers in film today and he’s joined by an equally livening cast with Christopher Gray and Emily Tyra.
Actor Brett Gelman paints a vivid overture that coalesces with a sheer burst of violence as Richard (Gray) suddenly attacks Jonah (Chambers) in his own home with Richard’s girlfriend Sasha (Tyra) stepping into mitigate. Upon being gifted a harpoon for his birthday, fallout over the incident ensues with Jonah and Sasha downplay Richard’s notions of infidelity between them, and Richard looking to make amends in part with all three spending the day on his family’s yacht.
The three eventually, seemingly settle the score with Richard letting Jonah and Sasha get in a few licks of their own as reparations for him attacking Jonah – that is, on top of having a penchant for flying off the handle when things displease him. Alas, Richard’s own recollections compel him to ask Jonah a few questions regarding a certain tête-à-tête between him and Sasha a few months earlier.
Differing answers lead to a climatic standoff that ultimately pits the two against Richard. Tensions officially reach critical levels as the group is now trapped out in open water with Jonah wounded by the harpoon from an earlier struggle, the boat failing to start, and a week of no food or water whilst taking more alternative measures of nutrition. It’s in those six days, however, that will make all the different with more grim and dark secrets to be revealed.
I’m inclined to ask, however, if any of those secrets or issues would have mattered in the long haul in Grant’s Harpoon. Interestingly, minor semantics make for a lovely little easter egg in the film’s dialogue, most notably with what to call Richard’s gift. It’s an interesting addendum with regard to the film’s title and the inexculpatory notion of what friendship is supposed to be as our iniquitous errants set fire to the rain with reckless abandon.
Gelman’s monologue explores the topic of friendship at the top of the film with a brilliant exposition on a fluid list of the different kinds of friendships there are. Here, we get an overhead shot of the yacht with an S.O.S. on the bow, adding to the foreboding tone and overall tension of the story as it begins.
The roles of Richard and Jonah both come from entirely different backgrounds which inherently factors into their ire for one another despite their friendship. Sasha herself isn’t exactly the caught-in-the-middle innocent in this quagmire either, while this atmosphere of stranded dilapidation, famine and both figurative and literal brutality sets the arena for one of the most unapologetically gory moments of the whole the film.
Grant hands the reigns to his stars with an extra side of fake blood and raw talent in Harpoon. Riveting performances from our cast completely consume the screen with a chilling air that will ever make you think twice about going a day on a yacht with your mentally decaying friends and without all the essentials for survival. More importantly though, what Harpoon ascribes to is the inescapable penance that occurs when problems are cast by the wayside and evils are allowed to fester in the process.
Generated by stunning and arresting performances and an ample level of horror and gore fitting for a psychological thriller of this nature, Harpoon serves as a haunting allegory about being honest to ourselves and those we have in our circle. If nothing else, this message reverbs loud and clear with a story that, despite whatever measure of reprieve you decide to allocate, absolutely punishes its characters. And frankly speaking, it’s fucking fantastic.
FYI: It’s also not for the squeamish. Obviously.
Directed by Rob Grant
Munro Chambers (Turbo Kid)
Emily Tyra (Code Black)
Christopher Gray (The Mist).
Michael Peterson (Knuckleball)
Kurtis David Harder (What Keeps You Alive)
Julian Black Antelope – 775 Media Corp (True Fiction)
Laurie Venning – Venntertainment