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Hunter (Movie Review)

Hunter (Movie Review)
5 10

PLOT: After his family is attacked and killed in their own home, an ex-fighter ends up living on the streets grappling with the guilt and pain from the tragic event. When he happens upon a group of men committing a violent crime, his past appears to come back to haunt him.

REVIEW: There is something to be said about independent film when it tries to be something more than it is. However, sometimes it is easier to respect their ingenuity more than the actual product itself. HUNTER (WATCH IT HERE) is an interesting idea. It offers a few different layers to the story of an ex-fighter who lost his family during a home invasion. It features an interesting lead in Jason Kellerman, as well as his co-star, Rachel Cerda. And it offers a creative bit of genre mash-up that is slightly clever and lends itself well to horror. Unfortunately, as intriguing as the entire premise is - I won’t give away much here - it didn’t quite connect. Even with a few surprises, it isn’t that difficult to see the direction they are going.

When we first meet Hunter (Kellerman - who also wrote the screenplay), he is homeless and clearly suffering from nightmares spawned from his tragic past. Hoping to find a place with food and shelter, he ends up assigned to  an attractive counselor named Danni (Cerda) who attempts to find out how he ended up on the streets. Meanwhile, a trio of serial murderers, seemingly led by a beast of a man named Volakas (Nick Searcy) are out killing random women. The trio, played by Leigh Foster, Beau Forbes and Ryan Heindl, make the mistake of getting too close to Hunter. And once the homeless hero begins to follow Luke (Heindl), he discovers that his own redemption may be to stop them all. The closer he gets, he finds that there is a very dark secret behind the killings and the trail of bodies they leave in their wake.

Hunter AITH arrow in the head joblo.com horror david tarleton nick searcy jason kellerman 2019As curious as the idea may be, it is hard to stay engaged in this story for a couple of reasons. One major issue is the hyper stylized editing. Nearly every single scene we have images and nightmares and memories flash to the point of distraction. While there are moments where it works, much of the time it just feels redundant. As the story unfolds and we realize what happened to Hunter and his mother and sister, the quick cuts and the close-up shots of dripping blood become a bit tedious. In fact, it is the quieter moments that worked better. The scenes between Kellerman and Cerda were interesting, although Kellerman is such a confident presence, at times it was difficult believing that he would fall into this life - even with the tragic loss he suffered.

Directed by David Tarleton, you may be able to get an idea of where the film goes from the trailer. Having not watched anything about the film before viewing myself, I still figured the secret out pretty quickly. The best thing about the villains’ is Nick Searcy. The talented character actor adds a bit of gravitas to the film, and even the terrifying trio he leads offer up a couple of moments of suspense. However, the more we get to know them, the less scary they become. While the ultimate reveal of who they really are is fairly obvious, I will give the filmmakers credit for attempting to make this more than just another serial killer flick that we’ve seen a hundred times before.

Hunter AITH arrow in the head joblo.com horror Jason Kellerman David Tarleton Nick Searcy thriller 2019Most of the performances are fine, and Kellerman is solid in the title role. As mentioned, the only caveat is that even when he is supposed to look his worst, it was hard to fully buy him as someone living on the streets. However, he makes it work well enough, and perhaps that was part of the filmmakers intent. It may actually help that he seems out of place at a shelter for the relationship between he and Danni to fully form. As far as the villains, aside from Searcy, it is Heindl that stands out the most. The actor has a unique look and brings a bit of vulnerability to his villainous character.

HUNTER is a decently made flick, but the many quick cuts and overabundance of flashbacks become a bit distracting. In many ways, this low budget flick is reminiscent of many of the horror/thriller mash-ups from the 90’s. As well, the action and fight sequences work well enough, even though they would have been much more effective without all the flashy cuts. There was certainly promise here, and some may appreciate this dirty little thriller. Even the final sequence attempts to try and go in a less predictable direction and it kind of works. If anything, it sets this up for a possible VOD franchise - or at the very least a sequel. This is the kind of movie that may be good for a quiet night of Netflix viewing at best. Even still, there is promise here. It may be style over substance, but at least the filmmakers tried to add something fresh to a couple of genre staples. 

Source: AITH

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