October 3, 2019 Harpoon (Movie Review)
Good friends are hard to find. So when three close pals set sail in Rob Grant’s award-winning feature film Harpoon, their three hour tour is guaranteed to be smooth cruising, right? Epic Pictures and DREAD deliver the madness to select theaters October 3rd before unleashing it on VOD and Blu-ray on October 8th.
Harpoon is the tale of best friends Jonah (Munro Chambers: Degrassi: The Next Generation series, Turbo Kid 2015), he of the unlucky name, and Richard (Christopher Gray: The Mist series, The Society series), he of mucho wealth. You see, Jonah was raised by distant parents who were never quite satisfied with anything he did, and now they’re gone—leaving him with a financial conundrum of epic proportions. Richard, on the other hand, had a close upbringing in an affluent family, but he’s prone to bouts of blinding rage. Though when things get especially ugly between the pair, thankfully they have a referee: Richard’s long-time partner Sasha (Emily Tyra: Flesh and Bone mini-series, Code Black series).
After the friends’ latest fist fight, Richard suggests a day cruise aboard his yacht to cool tensions. Afterall, what could be a better way to blow off steam than spending some time together drinking and playing with his new spear gun? Alright, purchasing someone with a serious anger management problem a harpoon for their birthday was admittedly a bad idea, and now things are quickly getting ugly. Is it because redheads and bananas are bad luck on a boat?
Clocking in at 82 minutes, Harpoon was written and directed by Rob Grant (What Doesn’t Kill You short 2014, Alive 2018). Billed as a Horror-Comedy, Harpoon floats somewhere in the amorphous territory of the Horror-Thriller, with elements of dark humor, bleak irony, and a whole boatload of personal drama. Splashed in plenty of blood and with analogies to Edgar Allan Poe’s sole completed novel, 1838’s The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, the film presents an intriguing screenplay that delves into psychology, the work of Aristotle, Yann Martel’s 2001 best-selling novel Life of Pi, and some Donner Party-esque wicked intentions.
An admittedly dark foray into toxic relationships, Harpoon has no entirely sympathetic characters: Richard is unnecessarily violent and likely a sociopath; Jonah perpetually allows his friend to use him as a literal punching bag; and Sasha continues to tolerate Richard, likely due to his wealthy gifts—like her hot pink sports car, Ziggy Cardust. Let’s just be real here: none of the three is a glowing representation of wholesomeness. With the perfect voice to frame this wicked tale, omniscient narrator Brett Gelman (Fleabag series, Stranger Things series) makes it abundantly clear from the first minutes of the flick that these are three people who are hard to love, and perhaps that is how they’ve managed to find and (desperately) hold onto each other.
With just a cast of four exceptional talents, Harpoon does a lot with very little. Bringing the motley crew of horrible frenemies to life, Chambers, Gray, and Tyra do a phenomenal job in their roles. Chambers perfectly embodies the down-on-his-luck spirit of Jonah, presenting a (mostly) likable man who is lovesick for his best friend’s girlfriend. Gray delivers obnoxiousness in spades as Richard, needlessly violent, jealous and irrational, and wholly smarmy in his self-aggrandizing behaviors. The obvious foil to Chambers’ Jonah, they are perfect opposites who seemingly make a dynamic duo somehow.
Then there’s Tyra’s Sasha, stuck somewhere in the middle: aware that her boyfriend has some serious issues but also not ready to walk away and lose all the benefits of dating him—even if it means being treated right by someone (poor) who loves her. Of course nothing is ever so simple, and all three of the characters have skeletons in their closets—some more than others. Together the three talented actors play off one another to make merry in their bleak situation, always managing to make matters far worse with every fumbling step they take.
Cap this all off with an eclectic soundtrack that incorporates everything from Oldies and Opera, to Indie Rock and Harpoon is an interesting film—no matter how you categorize it. However, it should be noted that Harpoon is not for those who are easily offended, what with its flinging golf balls at seagulls, blood drinking, and harpooning—oh sorry, spear gunning—amidst its main characters perpetually trying to annihilate one another. All this aside, those that enjoy twisted drama and morbid humor are likely to enjoy their ride on this three-hour tour. For this, Cryptic Rock give Harpoon 4 of 5 stars.