Friday, September 02, 2022

The Harbinger: Buckle-Up for Some Craziness

Daniel Snyder went from one Ponzi scheme to another. The first was the traditional financial kind. The second involved eternal souls. To avoid ruin and save his daughter, Snyder made a deal with the devil, but the terms are decidedly unequal and predatory. However, there might be hope outside the Christian faith in Will Klipstine’s The Harbinger, which releases today in theaters and on-demand.

Snyder’s daughter Rosalie is a bit of a problem child. In fact, she maybe isn’t even Rosalie any more. Regardless, she is part of the reason the Snyders must relocate so frequently. Apparently, he has some sinister obligations he must fulfill in their new town, but he is reluctant to get down to it. Instead, he approaches Floating Hawk, a Native American spiritualist for counseling. Inexplicably, she prohibits Rosalie from stepping foot on reservation property, but she is willing to parcel out some cryptic advice to Snyder.

There is a whole lot of crazy stuff in
Harbinger, including Faustian bargains, Native American spiritualism, and honest-to-gosh, the ghosts of 1920s gangsters. Believe it or not, the ways they all relate is kind of clever. There are many surprises in the film that are tricky to write-around, in order to avoid spoilers. However, it is maybe okay to give Klipstine and co-screenwriter Amy Mills credit for the notion different laws apply to lands associated by Native religions and those governed by Christianity—and it just so happens the border between them runs straight through the Snyder’s new town.

The Harbinger is so over-the-top, it only seems to be missing Nic Cage, but Klipstine does his best to Cage-rage in his place. There are times when the film is completely off-the-rails, including several appearances from Satan. Nevertheless, it repeatedly earns points for originality. Klipstine really goes broke throughout the film, which is cool, especially when his ideas land (a good 60% to 70% of the time).

He also never holds back playing Snyder, showing absolutely no fear that he might look ridiculous. You can see the influence of Cage’s work in horror films like
The Color Out of Space and Between Worlds. In this case, that is a good thing—mostly. Irene Bedard is also terrific as Floating Hawk. Every time she is on-screen the film gets smarter and more intriguing. Charles Hubbell also chews all kinds of crazy scenery as “Luc,” Satan’s earthly persona.

This really is the sort of film you should see in a theater, because it is sure to elicit a very verbal response. Opinions will likely vary—drastically, but if you want to see something different, well brother, this absolutely qualifies. Recommended in proportion to your adventurousness,
The Harbinger opens today (9/2) at Laemmle Glendale.