Shawn Linden cleverly offers up a familiar survivalist thriller, that flips its own genre with a staggering last act that is both astonishing and haunting and no doubt the best horror moment of 2021....
Nothing will prepare you for where Hunter Hunter take you in the last moments of its tale. A horrific and yet unforgettable climax that will leave you stunned and thinking about it, hours or maybe days after the final credits have rolled.
I know I am getting ahead of myself in this review, but I am guessing, many who will have watched this stunning achievement will no doubt want to do the same. To talk about the final 15 minutes, where director Shawn Linden has so cleverly set up through out and yet I am guessing not one of us, the viewers gripped to our chairs could have foreseen where we were heading,
But the hints were all there! The sense of dread and foreboding drips from every grain of scenery. We know that there is this monstrous wolf, stalking the woods, picking up the scent and threatening the family who live deep within the forest, but we never knew just how bad and murderous this wolf could become and the end result can honestly be the most darkest a horror film could get!
But lets get to the before and the set-up is quite simple. A father Mersault (Devon Sawa) and his wife Anne (Camille Sullivan), have given up on the hectic social life and live peacefully in an isolated cabin, deep away from any civilisation. With their 13-year-old daughter, Renee (Summer H. Howell). the threesome rely on their food supply, by laying traps within the woods, hunting down the wildlife and slicing and dicing their captures, in which their dinner table resembles a butchery.
its here that the film could easily be set in the middle of an Apocalyptic world, it has the same feel and vibe of such films like The Road, where the only hint that there is life outside is when the plot briefly reaches out to the local authorities whose action themselves play such an important part to the deeply getting darker situation.
While Mersault is at peace of his surroundings, Anne is starting to have misgivings of their situation and the toil it might be putting on their daughter who is away from any sort of teenage life and the turmoil’s and joys it brings. While the time period is not quite clear, there is one beautiful and yet sad imagery of Renee picking up a Walkman with wonder and awe at what kind of technology she has in her hands, a little thing that many of her age would just instantly dismiss.
While the surrounding forest does not quite have the dead walking among it, what it does have is a hungry wolf who has picked up on where the family are living and is offering its own danger and peril, something that the Dad is desperately trying to put right, by hunting and killing this enemy threat. In many ways the character of Mersault brings a conflicting feeling towards us, in some ways he is a good Dad for trying his best for his family, but at the same time, its his own actions and stubborn behaviour that threatens the one thing he is trying to protect.
With is slow burn tale, creepy and yet eerily soundtrack, Hunter Hunter perfectly draws you into this world, offering hints of what is to come, but without never revealing its hand. When Anne is out looking for food herself and comes across a sweet rabbit and kills it with her own bare hands, while howling in despair at her own remorse and guilt, it is such a clever scene that offers so little and yet so much more.
Even the film title offers up its own cleverness as once watched, you finally get what it means as when Mersault stumbles upon more than he should have, while hunting for his prey, you start to realise that this particular wolf is one beast that you do not not want anywhere near your family’s home.
Much like the famous children’s rhyme, when the wolf does come calling to huff and puff and blow the house or in this case, the cabin down then the film becomes one of the best horror films in recent memories. Even gore hounds will look on, startled at how we got to this point. Its horror at its very best, a cold stark reminder what this genre can offer up on times.
What Hunter Hunter reminds us all is that underneath our skin, animals and humans are all but the same, all blood and bone and anyone or thing could be a “Wolf in Sheep’s clothing”…because make no mistake,
Hunter Hunter is one of the best horror films in recent times. A staggering unforgettable achievement!