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<em>’The Harbinger’</em> review: Dir. Andy Mitton [Fantasia]

Andy Mitton returns to Fantasia with his follow-up to 2018’s audience hit, The Witch in the Window. His latest project, The Harbinger, is a pandemic-set terror that is almost guranteed to keep you up all night. Monique (Gabby Beans) has spent the Covid lock-downs looking after her father with her brother. The three have been exceptionally careful, but after a call from an old college roommate, Mavis (Emily Davis), Monique breaks the quarantine to help her friend. As the two reconnect, they find themselves the target of a sinister entity, one that thrives on fear. 

The Harbinger

For some, just the setting of The Harbinger will be confronting enough. Mitton’s film is thick with pandemic emotion. The Harbinger is heavy with all the anxiety and fear that we’ve all been living with for the last two-plus years. The reminder of what pandemic life was like during the first lock-downs, before the vaccinations had been devised, feels like having a still-healing wound ripped open again. To see that early panic and paranoia on the screen will too closely mirror the experiences of many. Those who had to spend it in complete isolation, away from any friends or family, will heavily relate to Mavis. There’s a scene early on where (after a lengthy safety conversation) Monique and Mavis share an embrace. It’s so emotional that many, especially those that were alone for so long, will be wiping a tear from their eyes. 

This setting acts as a segue into the real issue being explored – mental health. No matter how resilient the person, everyone has been affected by this global phenomenon, and even the most robust have found their mental wellness having a wobble. Monique is a perfect example. Upon initially meeting her, she appears to be handling the ‘new normal’ well. She’s with her family and they have their own system to stay safe. But when you dig a little further, you find a person consumed with masking the weight of her own fears and worries. This in turn makes her the ideal target for her supernatural predator, the appearance of whom ties in with the pandemic hysteria, cutting a chilling visage.

The Harbinger may be heavily rooted within the horrors of the pandemic, but Mitton doesn’t forgo the more traditional scare elements. Monique and Mavis are plagued by terrifying dreams and haunting visions that are utterly disturbing. There’s an eerie silence that permeates these scenes that instils dread into the viewer before Mitton has even revealed his hand. Each reveal is somehow creepier than the last, and by the conclusion, nerves will be shredded. This ratcheting of fear acts as a conduit for the exploration of mental health and the many layers that that consumes. 

Easily the best pandemic-set horror since Rob Savage’s Host, The Harbinger uses the audience’s own anxieties as a foundation for what is to follow. With such an emotional touchstone laced throughout, the fear that Mitton generates is genuine and palpable. Watching The Harbinger is a sure-fire way to give you nightmares. You have been warned.

The Harbinger

Kat Hughes

The Harbinger


A fear-driven exploration of our pandemic anxieties, The Harbinger is going to traumatise some and terrify all.


The Harbinger was reviewed at Fantasia International Film Festival. The Harbinger will screen next at Arrow Video FrightFest on Friday 26th August 2022.

Kat Hughes is a UK born film critic and interviewer who has a passion for horror films. An editor for THN, Kat is also a Rotten Tomatoes Approved Critic. She has bylines with Ghouls Magazine, Arrow Video, Film Stories, Certified Forgotten and FILMHOUNDS and has had essays published in home entertainment releases by Vinegar Syndrome and Second Sight. When not writing about horror, Kat hosts micro podcast Movies with Mummy along with her five-year-old daughter.


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