Richard inherited two things from his father: wealth beyond the dreams of most ordinary people and a hair-trigger violent temper. His girlfriend, Sasha, and his best friend, Jonah, have a problem in common: their boyfriend and best friend, respectively, and for his birthday they had the drunken idea to get him a speargun which Sasha can’t help but refer to every time it comes up as a harpoon.
Richard having already beaten Jonah senseless over a misunderstanding over a text message, he offers to make amends by taking the gang out on the water for a day of sunshine and fishing with his new “harpoon” on The Naughty Buoy, his yacht whose name is a joke which inexplicably doesn’t work with the American pronunciation.
Accustomed to the best and worst of each other, with nothing but open sea and the wide sky and a handful of cans of beer, how bad can it be for Jonah, Sasha and Richie? With a boatload of resentment, suspicions, grudges and weaponry, both makeshift and received as birthday gifts, it turns out it can be pretty grim indeed when the engine breaks down and the currents sweep The Naughty Buoy further into the Atlantic.
Directed by Mon Ami and Fake Blood’s Rob Grant from a script on which he collaborated with the star of those two films, Mike Kovac, the tides of Harpoon shift between hilarious and hideous as The Mist’s Christopher Gray and Knuckleball’s Munro Chambers wage a war of nerves and dwindling resources as Richard and Jonah while Code Black’s Emily Tyra tries to negotiate peace on the tilting deck as Sasha, yet despite how awful they can be there is a genuine joy in their friendship.
With appropriately dry narration provided by Brett Gelman, discussing the superstitions and tragedies of the sea as the hours turn to days, dehydration and desperation lead to truly appalling decisions, water everywhere but not a drop to drink and precious little trust left between the former friends who need each other to survive, and no amount of recrimination can change their situation or that they chose to be a part of it.
A comedy beaten black and blue with a healthy splash of seagull red, Harpoon is not for the squeamish but Grant’s aware script and the performances lift it off the sandbanks of obnoxious teen survival horror, with literary references and historical interludes of the director and his unfortunate friends mucking about in boats.