FrightFest 2022 | The Harbinger

It’s not easy to make any film about the Covid-19 pandemic, but director Andy Mitton has just made it look easy with The Harbinger.

the harbinger


It’s not easy to make any film, especially a horror film, about the Covid-19 pandemic, but director Andy Mitton has just made it look easy with The Harbinger.

As a filmmaker, you always want your film to resemble the real world and to reflect our collective, often global struggles. After the world had to bow down to the novel coronavirus in 2020, more and more films have incorporated this into their narratives. Some have been more successful than others, but as we’re still partially living through it, it’s in no way easy to include it into a narrative. 

Which is why The Harbinger is such a treat. Writer-director-editor-composer Andy Mitton has crafted a film that explores rich themes that are irrevocably intertwined with the pandemic that brought the world to its knees. Mitton’s previous film, The Witch In The Window, was a particularly memorable horror film with a surprisingly emotional heart.

The Harbinger feels like a natural continuation of Mitton’s career. It’s perhaps not quite as effective or intimate as its predecessor, but it still manages to find something worthwhile to say about our fears during an unprecedented global health crisis. 

the harbinger gabby beans

Gabby Beans plays Monique, who, along with her brother and elderly father, has been extremely careful throughout the entire pandemic. But when Mo’s old friend Mavis (Laura Heisler) rings her, fearing for her sanity, Mo takes off to the city to help her. Laura has been plagued by intense nightmares that she can’t wake up from and as Mo is about to find out, it’s not just Covid that’s easily transmitted. 

While there are a few very effective scares in The Harbinger, this isn’t a scarefest. Its terror stems from the relatable feelings of paranoia and helplessness as well as the overall mood, created masterfully by Mitton and his cinematographer Ludovica Isidori. While the entire colour palette of the film is quite muted and almost in matte, it feels unique. 

Beans is very likeable and charismatic as Mo. While Mo clearly has some demons of her own, Beans plays her with warmth and empathy. Heisler is appropriately frazzled and terrified in her part, but her character feels much more shallow and underdeveloped. 

At times, Mitton’s script raises more questions than it answers. Some of it is clearly part of the design – horror, more than any other genre, can leave a lot unanswered – but with a film this good, you want to know more and immerse yourself further into the world and the characters. 

the harbinger 3

The film also speaks volumes about our fears of contagion, not just in terms of Covid but in general. We are (rightfully) terrified of catching something and that something could just as well be otherworldly. This very relatable fear, combined with the creepy imagery Mitton produces, creates a very effective and exciting mix of horror that is at once subjective and objective as we’ve all had to ask for permission to take off our masks and hug someone. 

The Harbinger isn’t quite as emotional or as creepy as The Witch In The Window, but it will still go down a treat with horror fans who like their films with a bit more emotional attachment instead of just plain blood and gore. While the script often lets The Harbinger down, it’s also one of the best pandemic films we’ve had so far. 

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