COVID made a lot of us feel alone.
Even though some of us quarantined with families or had friends and partners to stay with, COVID made many of us feel isolated. Piling on the politicians that ignored us or the conspiracy theories that invalidated us, COVID was a moment in history where we had to confront our mortality. Many of us lost loved ones or felt the long-term symptoms of being infected. It’s not over; many of us still know people who are testing positive for COVID, but the terror of the COVID era lingers in the back of our minds. Director Andy Mitton perfectly captured those fears and anxieties in The Harbinger.
The Harbinger follows Monique (Gabby Beans) as she breaks quarantine to help her friend Wendy (Laura Heisler), who suffers from disturbing dreams and night terrors that are slowly keeping her from waking up. As Monique supports Wendy through her night terrors, she slowly discovers the cause, a mysterious figure wearing a plague mask known as The Harbinger. Andy Mitton’s direction is powerful, as he knows how to make the world empty and confined. He’s able to make a room feel like the only spot on earth with any life. The editing between the dream sequences and the real world feels seamless, enhancing the characters’ paranoia. Light on jump scares and heavy on atmosphere, The Harbinger is haunting, and Mitton’s moody direction seeped into my skin.
Gaby Beanes’ and Laura Heisler’s performances genuinely sell this movie. Beanes’ introduction and scenes with her family are heartwarming, showing how important she is in the lives of the people she loves. Her performance is incredibly likable, making me root for her throughout the film. Laura Heilser’s performance is brutally tragic. You see the effects of her nightmares and sleep deprivation in her voice and face. She feels hollowed out and desperate, but you can hear a sliver of the personality and humor she’s since lost. The film’s horror exudes from Gaby Beanes’ and Laura Heisler’s performances.
The Harbinger grabs you by the collar and refuses to let go, capturing the loneliness and trauma caused by COVID. Andy Mitton crafted unique mythology from the chars of the pandemic’s peak. Those who watch the film may think back to cabin fever nightmares or risking contamination with terrifying store trips. While The Harbinger is a film of the COVID era, its themes of loneliness and fears of isolation are timeless, and I’m confident the film with haunt over audiences for years to come.
The Harbinger will be released on December 1