Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

‘The Hunt’ from the brain of Director Fritz Kiersch is a difficult film to get a grip on because the last fifteen to twenty minutes of the movie were very good, the first hour or so was kind of tedious and boring.  I’m also not sure the setup and style that the filmmakers chose to use for this particular film worked either, so I suppose the question is can you withstand a rocky start to make it to the stellar conclusion?

We know there’s trouble from frame one as we get to watch former CNN camera man, and present drunkard Atticus Monroe (Robert Rusler) film himself talking to his camera, looking like a luntatic, with three days worth of stubble and spinning a revolver.  Okay, I get it, dude is crazy.  Atticus and his old friend Jack (Joe Michael-Burke) are going out early the next morning with Jack’s eleven-year-old stepson Clint (Mitchell Burns) to film a hunting video that they plan to distribute through Atticus’ contacts at Wal-Mart. 

Before they even leave for the trip, we already know that something bad has happened during the trip because the film jumps forward a few days in time to a frantic search party led by Clint’s biological father Jon (Cliff DeYoung) who is filming his progress in the search for his son and the other hunters.  We also know that at least one of the three hunters was rescued, but we aren’t allowed to see which one until the end.  There is a lot of handheld camera work in this film, with Jon’s search being filmed hand held style, a lot of material from the point of view from Atticus’ camera and young Clint was also fitted with a helmet cam to get his point of view.  The style jumps back and forth between the point of view, interview angles and standard film angles but not to great effect however.

Whatever happened during the hunt could have been avoided if they had just listened to the freaky ‘Deliverance’ dude who told them to leave, but alas, listen they did not.  So onward they go, and what good is a hunting video if you don’t land a buck.  Jack managed to wound one, but it looks like it disappeared into this restricted area labeled clearly, ‘Stay Out’.  Well, this gets the best of Atticus suspicions and he urges the crew, despite the constant, incessant whining of Clint, to trespass into this area so they can get the ‘money shot’.

Well this was just an awful idea.  Maybe the weird Cray computers out in the open fields, or the shotgun toting, 4X4 riding commandos, or the occasion dismembered body part could have been a hint, but Atticus is feeling his chance for the ‘Big Scoop’ and refuses to leaves the area, forcing the other two hunters to suffer along the same fate as he.  But what fate is this?  Well you’re just gonna have to watch it now aren’t you.

Once we get to this ‘fate’ of theirs, ‘The Hunt’ is pretty exciting but getting there is quite the chore.  It would appear, since Director Kiersch was working with a limited budget, that he decided to focus on character early on, and build a bridge between the characters on screen and the audience but it wasn’t very effective.  The character of Atticus was a typical, unbalanced, unhinged psycho who you knew from the first frame was either going cause trouble, or get into trouble, or both.  Clint whined and cried so often that, even though he was only eleven,you wanted to grab him by his collar and yell MAN UP BITCH!  DAMN!  Joe Michael Burke’s character Jack comes off the best, but still, you would think he would know better than to go any damn place with Atticus and expect it turn out well.  There was a ticker at the bottom of the screen to alert us to the day and time, but it didn’t serve much purpose as we pretty much knew what was happening without that added assistance.  Also, Cliff DeYoung’s character, and the plot device of having him continuing the search after ‘the gubment’ has called it off, felt like more of a filler to keep the running time of the film respectable, than an integral part of the narrative.

But that being said, and when the sun falls and night comes, and Clint, Atticus and Jack have to run for their lives, then ‘The Hunt’ gets pretty damn good.  I’m sure if it was economically possible, the filmmakers would have made this the bulk of the movie, but alas it was not to be.  There is also a blurb at the end of the movie that this was based on a true story.  Let’s hope not. 

The last part of ‘The Hunt’ was just good enough to justify a recommendation from this lowly film critic, trumping the rather pedestrian first two acts of this film.  However, watch at your own risk.

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