Harpoon Movie Review

Written by Joel Harley

Released by Signature Entertainment


Directed by Rob Grant
Written by Rob Grant and Mike Kovac
2019, 83 minutes, Rated 15 (UK)
Released on 18th October 2019

Brett Gelman as Narrator
Munro Chambers as Jonah
Emily Tyra as Sasha
Christopher Gray as Richard


Ski lifts. Saunas. The Bluejohn Canyon. A luxury yacht. Trapping a set of characters someplace innocuous and then having them fall apart mentally and physically is a familiar horror movie trope. But while most trapped-between-a-rock-and-a-hard-place genre movies tend to slowly and deliberately strip away the humanity and compassion from their characters, Harpoon starts at that point and just lets its central trio have at it.

harpoon 01

Rob Grant's bleak, mean little story concerns three assholes – one overt, one in denial, and one through association. Richard is an entitled rich boy with a violent temper; Sasha his girlfriend, and Jonah his best friend. The three of them haven't even boarded Christopher's yacht ('The Naughty Buoy') when the first of many brutal altercations begins, ending with a bloody nose and a harpoon gun. We knew where all this was headed anyway; Harpoon gets down to business with remarkable efficiency.

Snarkily narrated – like an episode of Come Dine With Me – by the arch Brett Gelman, it possesses a juicy mean streak and no love for its dickhead characters. Its first act packs in more twists and turns than most films of this ilk manage in their entire runtime – the consequences of which are felt for the rest of the movie. The harpoon, as it turns out, is the least of anyone's worries.

harpoon 02

That any of these people could wind up on a boat together in the first place never quite rings true. Christopher's aggression is so explosive and the trio's first confrontation so brutal that narratively, their reconciliation to board The Naughty Buoy makes no sense. Subtlety is not the film's strongest suit, in character or theme, and spending so much time with these unrepentant bastards will put a lot of viewers off.

But we've seen this sort of thing done many times before (most notably in 2006's Open Water 2: Adrift), so it's only the film's attitude and casual brutality that really sets it apart from the rest. A treatise on male aggression and ego, it pits two very different kinds of entitlement and anger against one another and asks: which is worse? The violent monster with serious anger management issues or the seedy, snide 'nice guy'? And while Sasha may be caught in the middle, she's far from innocent either.

harpoon 03

Harpoon is a cruel, darkly hilarious morality tale that openly delights in its characters' misery, dragging them through such a wringer that the cast of, say, Open Water movies should have been glad for their comparatively dignified ordeals on, and in, the ocean. Such abject meanness won't to be all tastes, but for everyone else, it's a delicious bit of schadenfreude.

HARPOON will be available on the ARROW VIDEO CHANNEL (and also Amazon Prime and Apple TV) from 18th October


Movie: 3.5 Star Rating Cover

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Joel Harley
Staff Reviewer
Haribo fiend, Nicolas Cage scholar and frequently functioning alcoholic. These are just some of the words which can be used to describe Joel Harley. The rest, he uses to write film criticism for Horror DNA and a variety of websites and magazines. Sometimes he manages to do so without swearing.
Other articles by this writer



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