Harpoon, co-written and directed by Rob Grant, is a pitch-black new dark comedy that provides an interesting riff on the common trope of “cabin fever” horror. Thanks to killer pacing and a wicked sense of humor, this manages to be a thoroughly enjoyable and surprisingly thoughtful meditation on human nature.
The film follows a group of friends who go on a day trip on a yacht, but end up getting stranded for days in the middle of the ocean, causing tension and dark secrets to arise. Although the setup is relatively common and straightforward, the movie approaches it in a way that is so dark and twisted that one can’t help but revel in the blend of darkness and absurdity happening on screen.
The humor in the film is definitely demented, but herein lies the appeal of the movie. This isn’t an uplifting film about a group of people coming together to survive the worst obstacle they have ever faced — instead, audiences will be howling watching how the friendship between these people dissolves over the short period of time in which they are trapped together.
Additionally, the movie is able to build suspense in a shockingly effective way. Because the film seems so preoccupied with playing with the audience’s expectations, down to the hilariously deadpan narration from comedian Brett Gelman, the movie ultimately becomes delightfully unpredictable. While viewers will likely be able to figure out that something is afloat, figuring out what is more difficult.
One of the more interesting things about this film is its character development because none of the three leads are presented in a way that is particularly likable. Frankly, all three of the characters are jerks in their own terrible ways. However, because of the dark and over-the-top nature of the movie, viewers will appreciate getting to see them suffer.
The small cast has great chemistry, and this is part of what makes the film so effective. For a movie in which a majority of the runtime is spent trapped with these few characters, it is important for the dynamic to be believable. Munro Chambers, Emily Tyra, and Christopher Gray are able to make the relationship between the characters feel very real despite the exaggerated personalities of everyone involved.
Visually, the film is pretty solid. Like most movies of this type, the visuals are heavily centered around creating an overwhelming feeling of isolation. Although the audience will feel more like voyeurs than active participants in the conflict, the camera does a very good job in creating spatial geography to heighten the sense of tension that the characters feel.
The bleak and darkly humorous outlook of Harpoon may not appeal to everyone, but those who have a twisted taste in horror-comedy are likely to find this to be absolutely hilarious. Thanks to a humor-filled script, this film works much more than expected.
Harpoon is now available on VOD.