December 18, 2020 Hunter Hunter (Movie Review)
If you want to snag the wolf, you’ve got to out-wolf him. Apropos of its title, it’s a game of predator versus predator in the new Thriller Hunter Hunter, which arrived to select theaters, as well as Digital and On Demand, on Friday, December 18, 2020, thanks to IFC Films.
Written and directed by Shawn Linden (Nobody 2007, The Good Lie 2012), Hunter Hunter is the story of a family of fur trappers—Joseph (Devon Sawa: Casper 1995, Final Destination 2000), wife Anne (Camille Sullivan: Intelligence series, The Disappearance mini-series), and daughter Renée (Summer H. Howell: Curse of Chucky 2013, Clouds 2020)—who are living off the land in the remote wilderness. But times are tough and the price of fur is dropping, leaving the family to struggle to survive.
Unfortunately, matters only become worse when a rogue wolf begins to stalk their land. Intent upon ridding his woods of the competition, Joe takes matters into his own hands and goes hunting. But as his absence becomes mysteriously prolonged, Anne and Renée begin to worry. The local authorities—Officer Barthes (Gabriel Daniels: Goon 2011, Fractured 2019) and partner Lucy (Lauren Cochrane: The Pinkertons series, Fractured 2019)—are contacted, but they see no signs for concern and brush the mother and daughter off. However, it won’t be long before a strange noise outside the cabin will turn this entire story on its head.
Clocking in at 93 minutes, Hunter Hunter is a suspense-filled Thriller that brings its audience into the forest, dumps them off, and then begs them to make sense of a string of events that will leave everyone grasping for answers. But don’t worry: this is not a film that leaves its viewers to analyze an ambiguous conclusion. Instead, moviegoers can look forward to a grotesque climax that is definitely not aimed at the faint of heart (or stomach).
To get to that point, Hunter Hunter travels on a steadily building course that piles intrigue upon intrigue: there’s a predator in the woods, Joe goes missing, and an injured man (Nick Stahl: Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines 2003, Sin City 2005) also steps into the picture. Attempting to make sense of the pieces of this puzzle is certainly possible, but it would be a shock in and of itself if anyone can guess how this entire story will conclude. But, to be fair, while it’s the ending that sets the film apart, Hunter Hunter is a solidly enjoyable Thriller even without its abominable denouement.
Coupling excellent suspense with beautiful natural scenery, which receives its due thanks to cinematographer Greg Nicod (Sacred Hair short 2018, The Rabbit Hunters short 2020), Hunter Hunter fails to stumble as it races down its branching trails. Much of this is thanks to its talented cast who each deliver in their roles. For Daniels and Cochrane, that’s a bit of light-heartedness in this haunting tale, and the pair show a phenomenal chemistry that makes them wholly believable as long-time co-workers.
Sawa, as Joe, is able to effectively communicate the hardened spirit of a life-long fur trapper. Determined to continue to live off the land, despite mounting evidence that his ability to do so may be coming to a swift end, Sawa’s Joe is representative of the old way of thinking and doing. Whereas Sullivan’s Anne is more open to change, especially if it means a better life for her daughter. With enough strength to keep her home going amid struggle, while still performing all the duties of a dedicated mother, Sullivan’s character is the glue holding her family together. And Howell’s Renée is the young girl in the center, devoted to both her parents and their way of life, but desperate to make her father proud.
Together, they are convincing and provide a story that, although more intricate than many, is easy to follow. The sole ‘issue’ with Hunter Hunter is one that should be fairly obvious, what with the film’s title: this is a film based on fur trapping and hunting. If you are someone who is endlessly empathetic toward animals, and detests even the thought of animal trapping being displayed in a film, then this is a no-go for you. If you’re on the fence, then you should know that Director Linden has handled the subject matter gracefully, and there is little to no gratuitous violence against animals for the sake of telling his story.
All of this said, Hunter Hunter is a truly well-done, if bleak, Thriller that is likely to thrill much of its audience as you travel through the forest, attempting to guess where the tale is headed. It’s not a feel-good film, but it’s a well-executed film. For this, Cryptic Rock gives Hunter Hunter 4 of 5 stars.