New in select theaters and On Demand from XYZ Films!
THE HARBINGER (2022)
Directed and written by Andy Mitton.
Starring Emily Davis, Gabby Beans, Raymond Anthony Thomas, Stephanie Roth Haberle, Laura Heisler, Cody Braverman, Jay Dunn, Myles Walker, Qiana Watson, Mwape Sokoni!
Mavis (Emily Davis) has been plagued by dreams and though the pandemic lockdown is at its peak, she reaches out to her college friend Monique (Gabby Beans) to come visit her to help her. Monique arrives to find Mavis in pretty bad shape. At first Monique hopes to guide Mavis to some online counseling, but soon Monique begins having the same nightmares about a man in a plague doctor mask terrorizing her from the shadows. Now both Mavis and Monique must do everything they can to find out what this monster in their dreams is and how to stop him.
Kind of how every shark movie is reminiscent of JAWS and every possession movie steers back to THE EXORCIST, any movie that involves a man tormenting someone in their nightmares is going to feel an awful lot like a rejected script for A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET remake. I don’t know if THE HARBINGER was one of those, but with a little cutting and pasting, there is a lot of stuff in this movie that either borrows, elaborates, or modernizes the core premise of Wes Craven’s classic. But while the NIGHTMARE series became focused on Freddy, THE HARBINGER makes things much more about a personal tale about two very close friends. So while there is a focus on the different nightmares the protagonists are experiencing, THE HARBINGER tells a much more intimate story.
Setting THE HARBINGER during the pandemic also shifts the way this film is going to be taken in. It’s definitely going to be a movie some are not ready for. There are moments that indeed feel like they have been reenacted “too soon” such as social distancing, masking up, and all of the questions everyone had during those months we were all couped up. But while this definitely is a pandemic movie, the threat the characters encounter is the existential question of becoming non-existent in a world without contact with one another. The main power of the Harbinger is to take one’s psyche apart piece by piece until there is nothing left, erasing all traces of that person from the world as if they never existed. It taps into that isolation we all felt during that time, as if nothing mattered and we were living in some dreamtime void. These are some pretty heavy themes to put out there, much heavier than a knife-gloved boogeyman. So while some might not appreciate this journey into the worst days of the pandemic, at least THE HARBINGER deals with some deep metaphors brought on by the experience in a smart and somewhat entertaining way.
So there’s going to be a been there/done that vibe to THE HARBINGER all around with it being reminiscent of A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET and the pandemic lockdown. If you can get over that, you might enjoy this one. It’s got some pretty harrowing nightmare sequences and the acting is very strong from pretty much the entire cast. I rolled my eyes when I started seeing the masks and the social distancing at first, but eventually, I got into THE HARBINGER’s story. It deftly elaborates on that dreadful feeling of fading away. That’s a universal paranoia that we all fear in our own way and THE HARBINGER taps into that fear quite effectively.