Friday, 6 August 2010



The whinging being my current gripe about filmmakers populating the dramatis personae with such thoroughly detestable characters that the viewer ends up on the side of the mad killers as the least worst option. Whilst it may be a fine balancing act in that you don't want to have Jason Voorhees slashing his way through puppies and paraplegic nine-year-olds, it's presently trending the other way so that the maniacs are more attractive characters than the subhuman slime that occupy the nominally heroic roles but in reality you can't wait to see run over by a combine harvester. Twice. And when they do get slaughtered, I should feel some empathy towards them, rather than "about time too". The horror comes from "they don't deserve it" rather than "serves them right".

Case in point: early on in the intriguingly titled Harpoon: Reykjavik Whale Watching Massacre, the lead female is raped in a brief but repugnant and thoroughly gratuitous scene that simply has no business being there. It's never mentioned again, and the rapist never gets to answer for it - yes, he's killed, but [1] so are several others, [2] not because of his crimes, and [3] it occurs off-screen. If you want to me to feel a sense of righteous justice at his fate, then show it to me! I'm going to enjoy watching the match more than just being told about it afterwards. On the other hand, if there's no sense of righteous justice involved, he's just another victim and his crimes don't matter, then we're again parting company because I'm one of those weird folk who believe that they do matter.

A disparate and pleasingly multi-national group of people gather for a whale-watching trip off the Icelandic coast. Due in part to the antics of one of the group, a drunken French imbecile, the Captain is killed and the passengers are soon rescued - only to be trapped on an old whaling trawler by a family of maniacs whose actions are apparently triggered by the Icelandic whaling ban and who set out to bloodily kill the liberal, woolly-minded tree-hugging nature-loving environmentalist cissies.

It's not entirely terrible: it is pleasingly splattery in places, and nicely photographed, but it is still a ghost of Texas Chainsaw Massacre (evoked not only in the title and the absence of reason for its Family's rationale, but in the presence of Gunnar Hansen in the cast). But it's very silly in places (such as the kamikaze nailbomb scene). And not only am I confused as to who I'm supposed to be rooting for, but the film appears to be confused as well: characters that I think we're supposed to support come to cynically unpleasant ends while those of a more questionable moral nature make it to the final reel. Truly there ain't no justice. It's a disappointing film, as it's an unusual setting, from an unusual part of the world, and they could have made a cheerfully yukky crowd-pleasing horror/torture film, which is what I think it was supposed to be, and they haven't managed it. But it's a great title.


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