Harbinger Down (2015)
Harbinger Down (aka Inanimate) begins in 1982 with a one man Russian space probe burning up on re-entry. Jump forward to the present day and a University marine research team is on board the Harbinger fishing vessel commanded by Graff (Lance Henrikssen). Somewhere in the icy waters of the Baring Sea they dredge up the space probe and its occupant, now frozen in the ice. Once the ice thaws it reveals a shape-shifting creature that takes over people's bodies. Trapped in the ice, the crew must then battle the creature to survive.
By now you're probably thinking of John Carpenter's classic The Thing (1982). There are definite similarities but it's not really an accurate comparison. Although this creature takes over bodies it doesn't pretend to be the person, so you don't get the paranoia. A better comparison would be Alien (1979) and a couple of shots look very familiar.
So Harbinger Down certainly isn't original. That aside, is it any good? Surprisingly the answer is 'yes'.
Visually it looks great, both the interior shots and those of the sea and ice. With the photography and direction Gillis succeeds in creating the trapped, claustrophobic feeling necessary for a film like this to work.
The script is solid enough if uninspired. There were a couple of funny lines (such as the Russian crew member saying "I can see Alaska from my house") but they felt rather out of place. Given the familiar nature of the story Gillis does a decent job without pushing any boundaries.
Acting is decent enough as well with the characters actually being different rather than interchangeable. Henrikssen is of course the big draw but I also really liked Matt Winston as the arsehole professor who provides a bit of light relief.
Overall I found the result a surprisingly engaging and watchable monster movie. Yes, it's simplistic, derivative rubbish. But it's good simplistic, derivative rubbish. I enjoyed it a lot more than I expected.