Action-Horror Hybrid WarHunt (2022) Is Not Worth Dying For
First Non-Festival Release: January 21, 2022 (Digital/Streaming Platforms)
Director: Mauro Borrelli
Writer: Mauro Borrelli, Reggie Keyohara III, Scott Svatos
Runtime: 93 Minutes
Starring: Mickey Rourke, Jackson Rathbone, Fredrik Wagner
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
During the waning years of World War II, a cargo plane mysteriously crashes behind enemy lines. Major Johnson (Mickey Rourke) appoints his best squad of men to retrieve it alongside his personal escort for the desired property, Walsh (Jackson Rathbone). The men find themselves wandering deeper and deeper into the forest when they cross paths German soldiers and some civilians living out in the woods. All is not as it seems, as their perception of the world around them begins to falter. Are they merely succumbing to the horrors of war or is something far more sinister afoot in the woods?
WarHunt is derivative yet decently produced action horror that fails deliver on thrills or kills.
A mysterious cold open sets the stage for WarHunt to be an interesting horror war film before it devolves into something more standard. In terms of pacing, it starts off well with its intensity and keeps that energy moving forward. Stark imagery and foreboding atmosphere help sell the film’s frightening setup, both in its prologue and throughout its runtime. Unfortunately, the story gets too convoluted for its own good and it spirals into a messy and banal final act.
A decisive lack of character development and differentiation makes WarHunt even harder to enjoy. There are too many characters and not enough distinction between them to care what happens. Underdeveloped, underutilized, and merely to pad the film’s body count in unexceptional ways, they crew turns into cannon fodder quite quickly. Everyone leans into varying degrees of ham and cheese to sell the outlandish story behind WarHunt. Jackson Rathbone is tasked with playing straight against the rest of the cast and does a commendable job throughout the film. Walsh doesn’t stand out from the other characters, but his energy is needed to wade through the internal turmoil.
WarHunt is saturated in artificial darkness to hide how brutally by-the-numbers its mind-numbing action scenes are. The murky cinematography may make the film look more authentic, but it causes the audience to suffer in the meantime. There are a few good shots of the forest and some good use of POV shots, but overall, its largely uninspired in terms of filmmaking. The editing and costuming make it hard to tell who is who. This is typical for most horror-war hybrid films in this reviewer’s opinion, but the problem is especially noticeable here. Harkening back to the issue of minimal character development, it compounds the issues within the script to make the audience even less invested in the team.
It isn’t all necessarily bad here despite the unevenness in storytelling and the difficulty involved with watching the action play out. Deceptively dark given the plot, WarHunt is a bit more brooding than other films dealing in similar themes. This gives the film a bit of an edge to it, as the actual content feels more nihilistic than films that draw on more realistic aspects of war. The computer generated special effects are pleasantly surprising here. Normally that would be the death knell for a film of this nature, but the crew made some real magic happen with the various horror elements. Birds, bodies, and blood make for some truly eye-popping imagery throughout the film.
By-the-numbers and generic, WarHunt delivers technically adept yet emotionally bereft World War II horror. The cast does their best with the material they are given but are sabotaged by the dark cinematography, weak writing, and absence of character development. Some neat visuals and boastful effects distract partly from these blunders but are not enough to truly make the film engaging or compelling. With a little reworking, this premise could be done in a much more polished manner. WarHunt will not set the world on fire, but it’s satisfying enough for folks looking for middle of the road thrills on the battlefield.