There are three types of friends, so they say, one for convenience, who you are friendly with because you work with them, for example, others for pleasure, you just like being around them but it's nothing vital, and then there are the friends who do you good, because they enrich your life and make it meaningful. But what if there was a fourth type, historical friends, those who you hang around with because you have known one another for so long that you simply accept their companionship as a given? Maybe Sasha (Emily Tyra), Jonah (Munro Chambers) and Richard (Christopher Gray) are in that fourth category, seeing as how violent Richard can be...
Harpoon was one of those films that save on a lavish budget by keeping a small cast confined to a small location, much as Roman Polanski had with his debut Knife in the Water, which also featured a three-person team on a boat and the tensions that arose from their proximity to one another. Comparisons with that film were inevitable, though this was more of a horror movie, despite it being billed as a comedy, or a horror comedy at any rate; was it funny, however? Truth be told, it was more cheerfully obnoxious than an absolute kneeslapper, placing the characters in an extreme situation and having its fun by seeing the damage they could do to themselves as a result.
What this was closer to was perhaps one of those survival thrillers where one or more people were stranded somewhere in the natural world and had to work out a way of escaping from it, you know the type of thing, Open Water, Adrift, The Shallows - it was no coincidence these were all plots based around the ocean as there was a general regard for the sea that mixed between a grudging respect and an outright dread. "You can't breathe underwater, you fool!", these films appeared to say, "So why would you go anywhere near it, much less set out for the most remote parts of the blue bits of the map where this is the sort of thing that will inevitably happen?!" It was pretty bleak.
Certainly Harpoon took a bleak view of the central trio even before they took to the waves, opening with Richard lapsing into one of his regular tempers and punching Jonah in the face for, he suspects, sleeping with his girlfriend, Sasha. Sasha looks on until finding the right point to break this up, then reassuring Richard she did not sleep with Jonah, which leaves him shamefaced and not, it is stated, for the first time, so off they go on his boat (Richard likes to show off his moneyed background) to make up. And besides, he has a new present from the other two he would like to try out, a speargun (not a harpoon), though the resentment is simmering under the surface, supposedly defused when Jonah gets his wish to punch his pal right back, therefore making them even. But this is one instance of their relationship's breaking point being close.
When the truth comes out, that Sasha and Jonah really have done the deed, Richard gets violent again, the consequences of which are that they are stranded in the ocean (but still on the boat, now broken down) without much in the way of food or water, and there is no sign of the coastguard on the radio, either. Intermittently through this, Brett Gelman contributed a snarky voiceover to introduce relevant concepts or merely to mess with the characters from our privileged position of watching them fall apart, suggesting (made up) nautical superstitions they are contravening and generally inviting us to look down on them from a great height. There was a trick writer and director Rob Grant used over and over, the reveal that something we thought was happening was not happening at all, or vice versa, and given this didn't reach the ninety minute mark he got away with this as if you could stick the first ten minutes, this settled into a not bad warning of how not to behave - on a boat, or indeed anywhere. Music by Michelle Osis.