Gillis is operating with a modest budget, nevertheless manages to produce a film that captures the essence of Carpenters The Thing far more so than any other challenger to date. The set-up also reminds of Virus (1999), another invading monster film set aboard a fishing trawler, which also had its resident menace derived from the Soviet space program. Incidentally, the menace here turns out for once not to be alien in nature but an ordinary human mutation. That said, the plot of Harbinger Down follows the standard monster movie formula in regular ways where Gillis does an effective job of containing the action in a single locale while having the cast progressively picked off one by one.
Largely the film has been constructed around a series of phantasmagoric makeup effects set-pieces, just like The Thing was. These are expectedly out of this world people devoured by writhing tentacular masses and giant sets of jaws; hybrid creatures and, in particular, one scene where Matt Winston bends over a table and his back erupts with huge tubes that begin jetting pink liquid everywhere. Alec Gillis has a fine ability to not only stage the effects scenes well but do a perfectly competent job of staging the jumps and suspense there being a particularly tense scene where Camille Balsamo must venture down into a hold to defuse the bombs only to find there is something floating in the water.
There are a host of references to The Thing. The date we are told the Soviet capsule came down is June 25th, 1982, which was the original release date for The Thing. There is also a replica of Kurt Russells chess-playing computer lying about on the ship at one point. There are other occasional sly lines, most amusingly Milla Bjorns Russian character paraphrasing Sarah Palin: I can see Alaska from my house.
(Nominee for Best Makeup Effects at this sites Best of 2015 Awards).