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HARPOON (2019) – Chattanooga Film Festival

Rob Grant is a familiar name in Canadian indie films. He’s directed films like Fake Blood, Mon Ami, and Alive. He has also worked as an editor on other people’s projects. Now he’s back on the festival circuit with his latest film, the horror-comedy Harpoon.

Jonah (Munro Chambers, Turbo Kid, Hellmington) and Richard (Christopher Gray, The Mist) are friends. Surprisingly, this survives Richard beating the crap out of Jonah in the film’s opening minutes. Seems Richard took some texts between him and his girlfriend Sasha (Emily Tyra, Code Black) to mean there was some infidelity going on

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However, the texts were referring to his birthday present, a speargun, (the harpoon of the title). So what can they do to patch things up? Get some beer and take the speargun out on Richard’s dad’s yacht. Which dies, leaving them stranded. No food, no water, plenty of secrets. And a speargun.

Grant, who also wrote Harpoon, makes great use of pitch-black humor. It takes the edge off of the fact none of the cast is particularly likable. That can be OK in a film with a large cast and the frequent catharsis of seeing one of the assholes killed off. When there are only three characters, (four if you count the narrator), you can’t do that. The humor stops having to put up with them from becoming insufferable.

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While most people will get the humour in letting anyone named Jonah near a sailing vessel, it’s Richard, full name Richard Parker, that will give ideas to anyone familiar with the works of Poe or The Life Of Pi. Harpoon also makes allusions to The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Or Iron Maiden if you don’t mind remakes.

Harpoon is a disturbing and funny film, that does a good job of contrasting the beautiful Belize coastline with the ugly activities on board the ship. It recently made its world debut at IIFR and played the Chattanooga Film Festival. It will be making the festival rounds as Yellow Veil Pictures looks for a distribution deal.

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