The Harbinger has never met a horror trope it did not like. Daniel (director and co-writer Will Klipstine) and Theresa (Amanda MacDonald) have moved to a new town with their daughter Rosalie (Madeleine McGraw, The Black Phone). Soon after the Snyders arrive, their neighbors begin mysteriously dying.
The story is all over the place with ghosts, Native American folklore, and even the Devil. It is a lot to keep up with, especially since it does not flow very smoothly. The Harbinger is dotted with random flashbacks and multiple twists. It can be a confusing watch.
Which is not to say it is ineffective. There are some great jump scares and the town has a creepy feel to it. Even before everything goes sideways, it is clear something is not quite right in the town. This adds to the mystery of The Harbinger. You never know who to trust.
The film takes full advantage by telling a twisting story that ends up losing itself. Initially, it feels like a faith based movie before morphing into a thriller that would fit on the Lifetime network. By the final act, it has a feel good vibe that would be right at home on Disney+.
It is an odd blend to say the least. The beginning and end of The Harbinger are some of the most family friendly horror seen in years. This is offset with a graphic scene of a child squashing a frog in their bare hand. This prevents the film from developing a steady tone.
The performances fit the story perfectly. Some are over the top and silly and bring an almost whimsical quality. Meanwhile, Daniel is a strong character that audiences will find easy to root for. He brings the gravitas that is needed in this type of story.
But it is McGraw that is the highlight of The Harbinger. She is incredibly funny and throws herself completely into the part. Sure, the laughs may be unintentional, but it is no fault of the young actress. She delivers each line perfectly and her dead eye stare is frightening.
Ultimately, the film tries to deliver too much. This is seen most in the ending. The final act speeds through its plot, dumping information and providing convenient answers. There are number of wacky twists with a final line that will have audiences groaning and laughing.
The Harbinger come to theaters and On Demand September 2
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