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Hunter Hunter (2020), Devon Sawa, Camille Sullivan - (Horror Movie Review)

Hunter Hunter (2020), Devon Sawa, Camille Sullivan - (Horror Movie Review)
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PLOT: A man and his family live like it's the 1800's, killing animals and selling their pelts for cash. Once a dangerous wolf returns, the safe life they have built begins to crumble, and that may not be the only danger lurking in the woods.

LOWDOWN:  I had just finalized my list for the best horror films of 2020 as there isn't much left coming out. It's mid-December, and the year's quickly coming to an end, so I thought, why wait. Hunter Hunter (WATCH IT HERE) comes into my life out of the left field and smacks me upside my fat, bald head. Holy shit, this is how you sneak in last minute and end the year with a bang. Hunter Hunter is a tense, grim, and unrelenting survival film. Yet this isn't the typical tale (even though It would have been great either way), but more about the hardships of love, life, and a desire to change. Mix that with a mean f*cking wolf, a sneaky serial killer, some of the best performances all year, and you get writer/director Shawn Linden's perfect end to the hellhole that is 2020.

Joseph Mersault (Devon Sawa) is a man from a different time surviving without any modern convenience. Electricity? No way. An outdoor shitter replaces even the comfort of a simple toilet. He lives with his compassionate wife, Anne (Camille Sullivan ), who's along for the ride out of commitment more than any passion for the pioneer life. Yet it is their daughter Renne (Summer H. Howell) who knows nothing outside this odd lifestyle, and you get a sad sense of someone who has been denied an everyday life because of her father's selfishness. This simple story of a family unit trying to survive when they shouldn't is engaging all on its own.

They set up early on that the Mersault's sell the pelts of animals they trap, and their only source of income has shrunk to a dangerous level. They can't escape this lifestyle if they wanted to because, outside the cabin they own (which may have been built illegally on federal land), the Mersault's have NOTHING. Add a smart and hungry wolf on top of starvation problems, and you get one unnerving situation. Though this may be a film about survival, it ain't a survival story in the typical sense. Hunter Hunter isn't set in the deep Alaskan forest or in the late 1800s but in our current time. It's Joseph's stubbornness and distrust of people (he's right, though) that put his family in their current predicament, and calling for help could get them evicted from the only place they know.

Sawa gives the performance of his career as the burly hunter and tracker Joseph Mersault. Shit, he's so convincing as a man who could not only survive in the wild but thrive in it; I genuinely believe he would have held his own against the Tsavo Man-Eaters from The Ghost and the Darkness. As much as Sawa steals the show, It's Camille Sullivan's Anne, who we follow and connect with. It's her struggle that we feel for, as she wants to leave her ancient life yet loves her man, but sees that their daughter may never have a chance at a normal life.

It's deep and depressing as a drama alone, but add-on a murderous four-legged canine and a pile of murdered women, and things go from bad to f*cked. As Anne starts to lose it after Joseph goes out and a multi-day hunt, we get a wounded and suspicious man named Lou (Nick Stahl) deep in the forest they call home. Not only does she have to survive the wildlife and hunger, but she needs to tend to a stranger on top of everything else.

GORE: This gets messy, and that's all that I can say.

BOTTOM LINE: Hunter Hunter is a soul-crushing triumph that never tips its hand as to where it will go. Shawn Linden builds the tension ever so slightly that it comes as a sweet and brutal surprise when things finally do boil over. Sawa owns it as the rugged survivalist, while Camille Sullivan blew me away and should get some type of award for this. Hunter Hunter is a prime example of pacing and tension, and I'm glad I get to end the year on such a somber, miserable note. For the year 2020, I wouldn't want it any other way. Who else needs a drink? I do.

IFC Midnight’s HUNTER HUNTER Opens In Theaters And On Demand, Friday, December 18, 2020.

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