Unbearably Tense Hunter Hunter (2020) Hunts a Predator
Title: Hunter Hunter
First Wide Release: December 18, 2020 (Digital/Streaming Platforms)
Director: Shawn Linden
Writer: Shawn Linden
Runtime: 93 Minutes
Starring: Camille Sullivan, Summer H. Howell, Devon Sawa
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
Life is hard for Anne (Camille Sullivan) and her family. They aren’t making as much money from their pelts as they used to, a wolf is stalking their land and threatening their family, and her husband refuses to listen to her about taking a step back towards civilization. Joseph (Devon Sawa) sets out one day to hunt for the wolf that is terrorizing the family while Anne and Renee (Summer H. Howell) take care of the house, until he stumbles upon a new threat. It’s clear to Joseph that there’s more danger to be fearful of and both Anne and Renee, unaware, focus on the wolf despite another predator lurking in their midst.
Hunter Hunter is a much-watch, pulse-pounding tale of backwoods horror.
An expression repeated throughout Hunter Hunter is that life is hard, especially out where the fur trappers live. They hunt for food and money, gather their own water from a nearby river, and homeschool by candlelight. It’s rough. We see that they are passionate about their living arrangements, however, Joseph and Anne have different ideas about the sustainability of their lifestyle. It’s with this full picture of their life that we really get to know the family through natural development. Little things like Joseph passing down deer skinning processes to his daughter and Anne correcting Renee’s pronunciation of the word imperiously. These small moments really show the dynamic without telling us.
Both Sawa and Sullivan deliver expert performances to elevate Hunter Hunter beyond what could have been an above average horror. Sawa is unrecognizable and plays his role with grit and stoicism afforded by his character; the real star of Hunter Hunter, however, is Sullivan. She bares the burden of the emotional arc of the film and absolutely nails it. She transforms from assured yet skeptical of their life to supporting everyone the best she can to resorting to whatever she needs to do to protect her family. Her metamorphosis is unnerving yet mesmerizing.
Director Shawn Linden does a superb job of building tension. Extremely subtle in his foreshadowing, Linden makes it clear exactly what he has planned for his audience. Linden feeds the perfect amount of information to the viewer to prod the feedback loops in your brain to crave more, to get more invested in the mystery. Motivations of his characters are clear and defined, without much need to spell it out to us, which helps builds the anticipation of the audience. When he isn’t disorienting us with shots from the woods, he is disturbing us with well-placed imagery, some of which that are now seared into my memory. From Joseph stumbling onto the site to some of the action later in the film. Trust me, you will remember THE scene.
Somber and relentless, Hunter Hunter capitalizes on its overall message of survival, emphasizing how difficult it is. People make the wrong decisions all the time and one day, it will happen when it counts. Predators are everywhere and they will take advantage of you in those moments in the same way they take advantage of anything and everything. Hunter Hunter reflects that in all of its gut-punching glory, particularly in the third act when the film culminates in a balls-to-the-wall finale set against the backdrop of rock music playing from a Walkman.
I have not had the pleasure of being more affected by a film this year, so far, than after seeing Hunter Hunter. Filled with great characters, riveting suspense, and a clever story, Hunter Hunter delivers an exceptional shot of adrenaline into a subgenre that sorely needed some revitalization. It’s beautifully shot and haunting in all the best ways. I cannot sing the praises of the cast and crew of this film more as it was a truly heart-pounding and uncomfortable experience, one I yearn for every time I click play on a new film. Life may be hard for Anne, but it’s really not hard for you to find Hunter Hunter on your favorite streaming service and watch it immediately.
Overall Score? 8/10