French director Vincent Paronnaud retells the Red Riding Hood story for an adult generation and offers up a dark fairy-tale that somehow gets lost in the woods…..
Having a sole female in peril is not new to the horror genre will such iconic films like I Spit On Your Grave and Last House On The Left, setting the path for many to follow. One of the best in recent times was REVENGE, which took the well worn formula and offered up a dazzling bloody ride that was a welcome breath of energy in a stale genre.
Hunted goes the other way, offering up a more gritty of a dark tale that may appease those looking for a cheap thrill, but may frustrate fans wanting more for their peril.
We start with an odd campfire tale that does not quite match The Fog’s opening gambit, which will have you more worried for the safety of the young boy, who is having to spend some time with a mother in the deep depth of the spooky woods and who is one step away of pulling out a portable DVD Player and playing The Blair Witch for bedtime.
With that odd scene now passed, we settle with the main character Eve (Lucie Debay) a French woman who seems to be a long way from home, overseeing work on a housing construction site and being bored and alone, decides to visit a local bar, where she gets the unwanted attention off a stranger, only for a knight in shining armour, The Guy (Arieh Worthalter) to come to her aide, who just happens himself to be the big bad wolf.
Its the opening half that Hunted actually flickers with energy as Eve finds herself in danger as the locks on the car door slam shut and The Guy along with his accomplice (Ciarán O’Brien) play a game of cat and mouse, scaring Eve, before letting her go and then following her to a Gas Station, which really is the peak of the film, because as soon as Eve is tied up and thrown back into the car, the film loses its way.
A surreal and bizarre “kissing” scene, results in the car crashing and soon, Eve is running through the woods, wearing a red coat as the two killers search for their prey. The film plays loosely with the Red Riding Hood connection, there is no Grandma, but other characters do enter the fray as the big bad wolves come calling.
Unlike Jen’s journey in REVENGE, in which we totally saw the her transformation from victim to heroine, Eve’s character arc gets kind of lost with the endless chase scenes and the long game of hide and when she starts to fight back, you do feel a bit unsatisfied at how her character arc develops, even though Debay gives all she can in the role.
You can see that Paronnaud has gone for realism and downright gritty, but the film lacks the menace and edge to really take us to that much needed dark place. With the recent release of the rather excellent ALONE, showing how this tale can be done, Hunted may look beautiful with its grim setting, but apart from the great build up, you soon realise that this particular fairy-tale is virtually running on an empty tank and ends up failing to offer anything new for horror fans to take this well trodden walk into the woods.