There are few things more intense in nature than the open water, deep out in the ocean, with no one else but the seagulls and sharks. That is except being out in the open water in a broken-down boat with two people who both essentially hate you. This is the dilemma that Richard (Christopher Gray) faces in the fantastic black comedy thriller Harpoon. Let’s not get it twisted. Richard is not the most pleasant person on Earth. He is a rich kid with an irascible temper and an equally angry father.
We first meet Richard as he is punching his longtime best friend Jonah (Munro Chambers) mercilessly in the face. Moments later, Richard’s girlfriend Sasha (Emily Tyra) runs in to attempt to stop the carnage. In the midst of the fray, Richard knocks over the ashes of Jonah’s recently deceased parents, who he recently discovered had no money to leave him. Guess what? Things do not look up from here. The plot spirals quickly into a shitshow within a shitshow within a–you get the point.
“Richard knocks over the ashes of Jonah’s recently deceased parents, who he recently discovered had no money to leave him.”
The title of Harpoon comes from what Richard and Sasha were arguing to get Richard for his birthday before this insane fight happened. Once the (first) fight cools down, Richard says that he will take Jonah out on the boat to spread whatever’s left of his parents’ ashes in the sea. Said harpoon (or speargun, as both Jonah and Richard like to correct Sasha when she says the H-word at any given opportunity) joins the three on what is supposed to be a day trip.
Within Harpoon’s tight-knit 82 minute run time, there’s enough blood, body parts, hilarious jokes, and jaw-dropping plot twists to fill up a boat. There’s an unseen narrator that offers extra insight into the interpersonal histories of the terrible trio. There are references to JAWS, Life of Pi, The Bible, and Edgar Alan Poe, just to name a few. The film is quick-witted and still takes the time to give us the visual sense of terror that accompanies being stuck in the middle of the ocean for quite some time. Rob Grant and co-screenwriter Mike Kovac’s script is one of the best black comedies of this year and any other. Grant’s editor’s sensibility shows in the economy of the shots. He possesses a great ability to make the film consistently visually interesting when there are really only two or three sets.
Harpoon is undoubtedly my favorite black comedy of the year so far. It is a twisted comedy, and it could definitely be called a thriller as well, but I laughed my a*s off several times, in between freaking out over the insane choices the characters make. I consider it a big win all around, and I can’t wait till it makes the rounds in theaters!
Harpoon (2019). Directed by Rob Grant. Written by Rob Grant and Mike Kovac. Starring Munro Chambers, Emily Tyra, and Christopher Gray. Harpoon screened as part of the 2019 Fantasia Film Festival.
10 out of 10 stars