Harpoon: The Reykjavik Whale Watching Massacre (UK - DVD R2)
After this, Marcus can strike another tourist attraction off of his to do list...
When a group of tourists head out for a bit of whale watching, the accidental death of their ship’s captain (Gunnar Hansen) becomes the least of their problems. Especially when their rescuers turn out to be a group of disgruntled ex-whalers who have a bit of a grudge against the business that’s celebrating the majestic sea creatures as opposed to hunting them.
I really, really enjoyed the set up of this one. The group of tourists were enough of a mixture of weird and stereotypical to make for an interesting boat ride. The slow build to the killings made for an entertaining showcase of the characters you knew were gonna come to a nasty end, even throwing in a rendition of Bjork's ‘It’s oh, so Quiet’ from one of it leads after she’s managed to escape an attempted rape—seriously a lot happens before any of the freaky sea faring family turn up to ‘save them’.
Once the messed up family trio turn up (starting with a swift hammer to a tourists head) the first fifteen or so minutes of their presence really steps up the tension (and comes loaded with a pretty sweet harpoon killing). Sadly, it just doesn’t sustain itself much further beyond that and really just turns into a series of short lifeless events with no real sense of panic, suspense or effective horror.
The terrorised tourists are kept busy with an array of weird dramatic arcs as they battle to survive the frankly inept family of killer whalers, including an American guy revealing he’s gay to a girl who likes him, despite the fact we have no real knowledge of how or why they came on the trip together in the first place, and a Japanese girl who enjoys watching her employees die and then spends the rest of the movie bribing others with monetary promises.
This all ends up feeling a little forced, making the majority of the characters hard to care about and with the focus shifted away from the killers (and honestly their threatening presence begins to fade) the credits roll around and I was left wondering exactly what the point of all the last eighty odd minutes was, especially after swallowing the tacky killer whale footage shoe horned into the last act.
The transfer here isn’t exactly a good one. The image is soft, the grain is quite substantial and really the best word to describe it would be ‘grubby’.
Dark moments suffer the most with blacks looking closer to dark grey and the overall lack of colour does little to sell the transfer. Even the open sea shots just look bleak. Endless grey skies and the grimiest blue ocean just depict a horrible day’s weather and makes for a really dull and lifeless overall effect. I guess, to a degree this is intentional and stylistically adds something to mood of the horror, but without a better transfer, any intentional style is sort of lost.
Generally all of the Dolby Digital 5.1 track lives in the front speakers and really there’s not a lot going on with it. Dialogue is clear and well presented for the most part, but never really captures the atmosphere of being at sea and despite the track's best intentions it never really shows off the sharp scares that may have lifted the jumps a little.
Really, there’s not a lot to talk about with the track at all. It sticks to its guns and provides a bog standard mix without any real highlights.
Other than trailers for Dead Snow and the great REC 2 there’s nothing to supplement the actual movie.
Harpoon: The Reykjavik Whale Watching Massacre has been described as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on a whaling ship (not just because it has 'massacre' in the title) and really that’s not too far off the mark. It takes a while to get there and it never lives up to the massacre that became movie history but Harpoon really is as simple as a group of travellers being chased around by a freaky killer family... on a boat and doesn’t really provide a lot else.
The DVD is dull and lifeless in both video and audio departments and with no features; this one is probably best left as a rental consideration.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 18 years and over
Release Date: 10th May 2010
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English, Dolby Stereo 2.0 English
Easter Egg: No
Director: Júlíus Kemp
Cast: Pihla Viitala, Nae, Terence Anderson
Length: 83 minutes
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