Reviewed by: Zombie Boy
What's it about
A battle-hardened bounty hunter and his crew get a surprise when they track down a big-ticket felon scientist: namely, his genetically-altered stalkers.
Is it good movie?
Grunt is your basic ‘Nam vet turned bounty hunter, tracking skips while adhering to his own moral code. He’s a hard man, but a fair one, and his ethics are unimpeachable. He commands the respect of his underlings, Ing and Webb, if not so much from his recently un-estranged son, Kelly. And as if the normal routine wasn’t interrupted enough by a film crew following Grunt and Co. around while making a documentary about bounty hunters, their current high-paying skip, Dr. Ernie Litwak, comes with his own set of unreasonable problems. It seems that the research he was doing before he broke some corporate laws was in eliminating the fear response from human beings, ostensibly to create wartime super-soldiers. Problem is, they are infectious and cannibalistic, and totally out to get the poor doc. Which puts them right in Grunt’s path. Not a place you want to be.
Bounty is an odd duck all around. At first I wasn’t sure why I was assigned the film, since it bore no resemblance to a horror film whatsoever. Which is not to say that I wasn’t enjoying it. It is modeled after Dog the Bounty Hunter, obviously, and mimics that aesthetic quite well, from the handheld camera action to the natural acting (well, for the most part). So it was basically like watching a show on the Discovery Channel. Not bad, just not horror. But then we start to get into the meat of the Ernie Litwak story, and the horror element comes out. Seems a couple of girls are out to kill him. It takes a while for him to come clean about his work, and by the time he does, the problem has multiplied as the altered people increase their numbers. It is only a short time before the small band of normal people find themselves quite outnumbered and quite surrounded by this new breed of human, with no fear response and thus no moral code to keep their actions in check.
Writer/director Kevin Kangas is no stranger to low-budget horror, having done Hunting Humans and both Fear of Clowns movies. With Bounty he has whipped up an odd mixture of 28 Days Later, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and Night of the Living Dead, all mashed together with the aforementioned documentary vibe. The end result is a hard nut to crack. It is a well done piece, but it takes quite a while to get to the horror aspects. And the bounty hunter actors do a much better job than the guys who hold up the horror end of the deal, which is a disparity that ultimately squashes the movie. The suspension of disbelief for the viewer is never achieved because the players in the film don't even look like they believe it.
Grunt is played by Tom Proctor, a veritable Renaissance man of cinema (stuntman/actor/producer/writer/director), and he carries his end of the movie as if it was made of balsa wood. (See? I said nice things about you...don't come and kick my ass, please). If all of the actors were of the caliber of him or John Rutland (as Ing), we might have had a different movie. And unfortunately, until we get to the climactic set piece of the film, the horror never rings true. And that final scene ramps up the horror and seems disjointed with the rest of the piece. A feast or famine deal.
Video / Audio
Video: I watched a screener, but I will go out on a limb and say it was shot on video.
Audio: All of the audio comes from the cameras' ambient mics or mics clipped to the subjects, which was a smart move. That way when it is crappy it seems authentic.
Bounty is a well-done film put together on a low budget, and I applaud the effort. Some of the facets of it are very entertaining, but ultimately it collapses under the weight of the horror element. It never builds the tension that I wanted to see, and I grew more and more disconnected from it. It is definitely worth a watch, just be prepared for the slight let down.