- Director: Andy Mitton
- Writer: Andy Mitton
- Stars: Emily Davis, Gabby Beans, Raymond Anthony, Thomas Stephanie, Roth Haberle,
The Harbinger is set at the time the covid pandemic was raging in New York and bodies were piling up so fast that there was nowhere to put them. Monique (Beans) is living with her brother and her father in the one house. It’s a bubble they created, mainly for the benefit of their father. When Monique gets a call from an old friend Mavis (Davis) asking for help, she decides against the wishes of her brother and father that she should go and help her. What Monique’s family doesn’t know is that Mavis saved Monique’s life in college and that she promised Mavis if she ever needed help, that she would help her. What Monique doesn’t know, is that Mavis has been having some issues with some really vivid nightmares, ones that she cannot wake up from. Mavis senses that in these nightmares that there is someone or something behind it all. Monique then begins to suffer the same nightmares.
There is a lot of early pandemic moments, like the talk that kids couldn’t get it, or it wasn’t as bad for them – even though both Monique and Mavis are listening to a child in the apartment above them, struggle to breathe and cough his lungs out. A demasking moment between Mavis and Monique is genuinely sweet and emotional, however this has duality in that Monique and Mavis has opened themselves up to danger. There are all kinds of moments and dialogue in the film, and they all have two meanings, one in the context of the film and one that relates to the situation that a lot of people had experienced. The horror is the anxiety of the situation and also the horror of what the nightmare monster is and does. Mavis says the monster has told her that she will soon be gone and forgotten, more of that duality.
When the two women contact a demonologist (via zoom of course), she has no doubt that there is a demon that is after these two. She names the demon – The Harbinger – and the demon likes the pandemic conditions. We’re alone, we’re vulnerable and susceptible to the idea. The idea of the demon growing from a seed, like a bad idea is just like the disinformation that was and still surrounds the pandemic and could literally be applied to all of the online, cooker conspiracy and fucking Qanon garbage.
Davis and Beans are simply great. Individually fantastic and then when they are on screen together even better. It is difficult to pick a fault with either performance both are played to perfection, whether that is the actors doing entirely or in collaboration with writer and director Andy Mitton, I don’t know but either way it completely works. Mitton directs this very well, his transitions from dream world to real life and back again are excellent and uses Cinematographer Ludovica Isidori’s consistent darkened hue to keep the heavy atmosphere of the film at the right level. Mitton’s writing is decent too, there is one particular plot point that didn’t sit well with me and very occasionally a line of dialogue hangs in the air, but this is just nit-picking.
The Harbinger is a very good film, whilst not particularly scary, the ideas in it are dark and the more you mull it over in your mind the more these dark themes put a knot in your stomach. It is one you should definitely check out. It may be a bit triggering for some but maybe that trauma is worth exploring through film. Film has the power to confront issues and considering it is something that is still very much around, still causing damage, perhaps it’s never too early to revisit it.
The Harbinger is on VOD and in Cinemas December 1 (USA).
Ryan Morrissey-Smith | Twitter: @TigersMS78