Harbinger Down (2015)
Terror is just beneath the surface.
I enjoy creature features. It's just a thing - you always get these neat creatures that are sometimes really interesting and imaginative that you can really enjoy even if the movie itself stinks. I mean, if you really think about it even such classics like Alien or E.T. could be thought of as creature features in a way, considering they both have a focus of somewhat importance on a creature - even if the moods of the two swing to drastically different sides of the spectrum. With the advances in CG, creatures could become even more incredibly complex and fancy and imaginative - the downside being a lot of the time the actors have nothing to act against, making for blander performances and CG just not normally holding up as well over time. Let's get down to business here, you're here to figure out if you want this movie to stay on ice or if you should get a bigger boat.
A woman is going on her grandfather's boat along with her university professor and study friend to track some whales. They cast off and the crew of the ship does their crabbing over night while the educated folks do their whale-tracking during the day, until the granddaughter wakes up one night to go investigate. The whales are right nearby, and as she watches them with her underwater camera, she notices something flashing. The crew pulls it on-board and heatedly discuss whether or not they should keep it there, fearing that it may be a mine or the likes frozen in the ice. After it's decided to keep it, they figure out it seems to be a re-entry capsule from a Russian space attempt.
A little friction is added between the professor and everyone else, as he ends up being a super-jerk and trying to cut the daughter out of her find after she tries to do a little research on it with samples. Soon turns out they are going to have far worse things to worry about however when the ice begins to thaw and something begins to spread. Turns out what was once thought dead isn't entirely so, but rather just laying in hibernation because of the cold. The thing slithers off to a lone shipmate in the engine room, and proves itself to not be the friendliest of creatures. Meanwhile, the doctor is up on the deck freaking out, and when the crew gets him inside to try and help him he grows some strange stalks from his back and paints the room (and the crew) with his rather goopy innards. It's at this point it's realized that whatever this is that was in the space lander, it must be contagious.
The crew proceed to try and deal with this mysterious creature, but for every break they catch another setback. They freeze the creature in the engine room, but find the drive shaft is broken. As more of them steadily turn into creatures, a bit of mistrust starts to form - only to be rightly placed when one of them ends up to be not who they seem - having set up explosives on the ship and planning to scuttle it and it's crew to the icy nethers of the sea floor with the creature and report back to their interested party the lone survivor. Things aren't going to be that easy however, as at least some of the creature is still out there unfrozen and with a ravenous appetite. Will the crew be able to save themselves, let alone the ship?
The plot isn't anything super crazy, feeling a bit like a poor-man's "The Thing" set on a boat. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, as The Thing isn't a bad movie by any means, but it also means anyone looking for something brand new will be disappointed. I can't say that I necessarily grew fond enough of any of the characters through the story delivery that I cared what happened to them specifically, but enough story is given about at least a few characters that you can get some basic feel for them - the grandfather being a caring type, the professor being a jerk, etc. That all being thrown out there, the Thing comparison isn't necessarily true all the way either, as it's a lot less of a stressful mystery of "whose human" after they all get sprayed with goo and contaminated.
Effects work is absolutely enjoyable here. Whether it's practical or CG, it just looks good (and if memory serves right, there is a good deal of practical done in this movie). At one point the creature looks like some kind of twisted blend of Audrey II and the Thing from the Carpenter flick previously mentioned, and it's pretty darn neat the amount of details in there. The transformations that happen with the crew are equally crazy, or at some points even the word "gross" would fit there quite well. The boat (where our entire movie takes place really) has this weird mix going on - on some hands it feels claustrophobic when under-deck where the rooms are pretty tight, and yet it feels like the boat has a ton of rooms even though it's a rather small boat.
Actors do a pretty decent job with things, even if for the most part it doesn't make you really feel for the characters themselves. The chemistry is good, and they at least portray being terrified rather well when things actually start to kick off. Audio is balanced rather well - even when it comes to characters needing accents - and as far as music goes I don't really remember it, so it primarily just did it's job of being there in the background as is the case in most movies.
For fans of creature flicks this is probably going to certainly be a check-it-out movie, if nothing else but for the creature effects. The story doesn't feel super unique at all, but it's by no means terrible (even if there are some questionable thoughts at points). It can get a bit messy at times, but it's certainly easy to follow and fits together for at least a average movie experience. Considering I went into it wanting some cool creature effects, I got what I wanted out of it easily enough.