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Film Review: ‘Hunter Hunter’ Will Leave You Speechless

Courtesy of IFC Midnight

Every so often, a film comes along that is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. You are left thinking about certain scenes—if not the entire picture—for days on end. You want to talk about it with anyone who will listen, you urge others to watch it, and sometimes you even write an article about it. Few movies accomplish this task, but when they do, it’s undeniable.

A new thriller from director and writer Shawn Linden has accomplished this task. Hunter Hunter chronicles a family of three living in the seclusion of the wilderness. They earn their living, and food, from trapping animals and selling their furs. When the threat of a wolf attacking the animals they catch in their bear traps surfaces, father and husband Joseph (Devon Sawa) heads off into the woods, determined to kill the beast. Tensions rise as a variety of disturbing events occur while Joseph is away, and mother and wife Anne and her daughter Renee must channel their instincts to survive.

To start, all of the acting in this film is notable. Among these impressive performances, actress Camille Sullivan, who plays Anne, gives the performance of a lifetime. Sullivan managed to fully tap into her character, and gives such a powerful portrayal to the point where every single emotion that Anne feels, audiences feel with her. While it is an emotional roller coaster for viewers, it makes Sullivan truly unforgettable. As you watch and progress through the picture, you will truly believe that Sullivan is a wife and mother on the edge, attempting to protect the life she has built at any cost.

Young actress Summer H. Howell also delivers a striking portrayal of her character, Renee. This is seemingly the first serious film for the 16-year-old. Previously, she was featured in movies such as Curse of Chucky, Cult of Chucky, and Disney Plus’ Clouds. It isn’t very often that a young teenager delivers a truly believable and unsettling performance, but Howell does. It will be very exciting to watch Howell transform as an actress throughout the years, and she is certainly one to be watched closely. Supporting players here include Nick Stahl.

Director and writer Shawn Linden leaves a very unique and noticeable mark on this movie. Linden has previously written mostly television episodes for shows such as The Fixer and In Plain Sight and dabbled in film. This is only the fourth work that Linden has directed, so it is surprising to notice such strong directorial presence, but it is also a sign of a limitless director. The movie is brooding, tense, and stomach turning consistently, and Linden deserves to be applauded for pulling off such a feat. 

The cinematography in this picture is breathtaking and adds to the overall creepy feeling it brings to the table. There are certain shots that are beautiful and frightening all at once, such as when the camera is moving between dozens of skinny, bending trees to watch the actress during a tense moment. At countless times, audiences may feel as if they are watching something they should not be witnessing, simply because of the cinematography.

The one negative against this beautiful film is that the first 30-40 minutes are a slow burn. Despite this, Linden manages to keep you enthralled for each and every one of the 93 minutes the movie plays. Linden seems to know exactly what scares us as humans, and he proves that with each scene. While the movie is listed as a suspenseful thriller, there are many moments where it feels more horrifying then any horror movies on the market currently.

It is not out of line to suggest that this motion picture deserves recognition of some sort, preferably awards related. With so many high profile, critically pleasing films on the market this year, it may not be in the running for Oscars fame, even though it is deserving, especially Sullivan’s performance. However, to see this film win awards from other areas, such as the Critics Choice Awards, would be warranted.

There truly is nothing quite like Hunter Hunter. It will keep you on the edge of your seat and unable to look away. If you’re looking for a film that will keep you disturbed, entranced, and stunned, be sure to watch Hunter Hunter in select theaters, digital and on demand beginning December 18th.

SCORE: ★★★1/2

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Written by Kendall Tinston

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