Director – Fritz Kiersch
Cast – Joe Michael Burke, Cliff De Young, Robert Rusler, Mitchell Burns, Amy Briede, Thomas Cunningham, Becky Love
Release Year – 2006
Reviewed by John of the Dead
This is one of those flicks that I came across randomly, and while I expected it to suck I figured I might as well take the plunge given I had some useless time to pass. I grew up a hunter, so this film from Children of the Corn director Fritz Kiersch appealed to me greatly, despite the mostly mediocre reviews I read about it. Well, my assumptions were correct in that The Hunt is not a successful horror film, and while the end-all effort is mediocre at best I still found some slight joy in this one thanks to some decent horror at times.
When Jack, Atticus, and Jack’s step-son Clint embark on a hunting expedition in hopes of creating a successful line of hunting videos, they see their preparedness and expertise as the next “big break” needed to leave their mediocre lives and live a more comfortable life. As they stalk a wounded trophy buck they find it has apparently crawled under a large security fence adorned with Private Property and No Trespassing signs, but seeing as there was nobody around and only a few hours of daylight left, desperation kicked in and the hunters made the call invade the property and retrieve the animal, which proved to be a very costly and harrowing idea.
I have come across a few hunting-oriented horror films in my day, but they are very few and far between, so I found some immediate joy in watching this film due to the near lack of other films like this. The storyline is fairly simple overall, but it comes with several unique elements that include the attempt at bonding between Jack and his stepson Clint, problems related to Atticus’ mental capacity, and of course the mysterious and deadly force/entity residing within the fenced off area the hunters trespassed into. Each of the mentioned elements, and several more minute ideas used, made for an engaging story that had most of my attention throughout, however I will admit that the hunting theme may appeal more to those familiar with hunting than those unfamiliar with the tradition, mainly because those who have hunted previously can put themselves in the shoes of our protagonists and allow themselves to be enveloped into the film, which always aids in enjoying horror. While the story won’t win any awards, it was the best that the film had to offer, with its most major fault being that it took very long before things got going. I was very surprised that I did not find myself bored or wishing the film would end given that this is not a great film, it just shows that the story was good enough to keep me going despite only dishing the (very favorable) goods during the last 10 minutes of the film. Sadly, I must also admit that the level of horror in the film is pretty low, which was a bit of a letdown given the film’s story. We have a group of hunters, each armed with a bow or a gun, and a forest full of something that wants them dead. Yet surprisingly we get very little action, no gory kills, and relative to what I just mentioned, what little action we do get comes at the very, and I mean VERY end of the film.
Director/co-writer Fritz Kiersch did an OK job executing the story, giving us great atmosphere and mostly-positive camerawork, but failing on most other levels. From the get-go it is obvious that the film’s budget is pretty low, and that reflects upon the actors used in the film. We get slightly-bearable performances from everyone involved, and due to the lack of “cheeze” I found these performances annoying and detrimental to my enjoyment. As far as the action goes I found it mostly-enjoyable, however I really wish we could have been given at least some moderate gore, or an on-screen kill, which should pretty much give away just how little gory carnage we get in this film…NONE. To make matters worse, I had a hard time taking Kiersch’s direction seriously due to a few silly gaffs that occurred, one of which made me cringe at how seemingly stupid it was. Part of the film is told in the pseudo-documentary fashion POV filming resulting from the recorded tapes the hunters made of themselves, which include the dates and times of each segment at the bottom of the screen when each segment begins. One moment a segment begins with 4:02AM SUN 16 OCT, and when the next scene kicks in a few minutes later the segment read 4:12AM SUN 17 OCT 99. For the first time in my horror reviewing history I found myself flabbergasted at the downright stupidity involved in this poor excuse of an editing job. How the filmmakers missed this is beyond me, and while it did not change the outcome of the film by any means it just bled “unprofessional” when you consider that the final product is a permanent final product that should be ready for press.
Overall, The Hunt is a decent watch at best that gives us a fairly interesting story utilizing a hunting element that we rarely see in the genre, but a lack of horror and mediocre direction/execution kept it from being anything special and just a Sci-Fy quality experience with laughable gaffes.