‘Hunt or be hunted’
Hunter Hunter is a 2020 Canadian horror thriller film about a family of fur trappers threatened by a wolf that closes in on their home.
Written and directed by Shawn Linden, the Julijette-MarVista Entertainment production stars Camille Sullivan, Summer H. Howell, Devon Sawa (The Fanatic; The Exorcism of Molly Hartley; Final Destination) and Nick Stahl (388 Arletta Avenue; Disturbing Behavior).
The brooding soundtrack score was composed by Kevon Cronin (The Return).
A family lives in the remote wilderness surviving as fur trappers. Joseph Mersault (Devon Sawa), his wife Anne (Camille Sullivan), and their daughter Renée (Summer H. Howell) struggle to make ends meet and think their traps are being hunted by the return of a rogue wolf.
Determined to catch the predator in the act, Joseph leaves his family behind to track the wolf. Anne and Renée grow increasingly anxious during Joseph’s prolonged absence and struggle to survive without him.
When they hear a strange noise outside their cabin, Anne hopes it is Joseph but instead finds a man named Lou (Nick Stahl), who has been severely injured and left for dead.
The longer Lou stays and Joseph is away, the more paranoid Anne becomes, and the idea of a mysterious predator in the woods slowly becomes a threat much closer to home…
[May contain spoilers] Reviews:
“… Hunter Hunter ends with a real jolt. Viewers who are faint of heart may be left aghast. In a story about survival, though, one character makes a definitive choice to survive, leaving us to think about how far we would go in a similar situation. Such is the gut-wrenching appeal of this intense thriller.” The Aisle Seat
“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…” Arrow in the Head
“Hunter Hunter toys with its audience. We’re transported into the wilds where human and animal live is perilous equilibrium. With the balance between hunter and prey constantly shifting. Danger stalks between the trees, creating a palpable tension and a sense of isolation and remoteness. Linden cleverly keeps us guessing until the very end.” Backseat Mafia
“Linden reminds us that the human world can be even more brutal and nasty than the one where you occasionally have a snap a rabbit’s neck with your bare hands just to have something to eat. Hunter Hunter offers no easy solutions, no uplift, no salvation, redemption or reassurance. It’s too viciously honest to do that.” Battleship Pretension
“The imagery of the finale will stick with you whether you’re invested in these characters or not. Still, Sullivan’s nuanced portrayal of an inexperienced woman crumbling under the weight of it all gives it the emotional heft that clinches the entire thing. She taps into a raw, primal power that’s impressive as it is adrenaline-pumping. Hunter Hunter makes for a simple slow-burn thriller with a payoff that’s worth it.” Bloody Disgusting
“Hunter Hunter is one of the most intense and haunting films of the year. I can’t stop thinking about the last few minutes of the movie. I believe these minutes will live in my dreams for a very long time. Hunter Hunter isn’t an easy watch, but it is one of the best-made movies I’ve reviewed all year.” Bulletproof Action
“Hunter Hunter is a truly well-done, if bleak, thriller that is likely to thrill much of its audience as you travel through the forest, attempting to guess where the tale is headed. It’s not a feel-good film, but it’s a well-executed film.” Cryptic Rock
“The film features quality performances, compelling characters, a commanding build of suspense, and enough twists and turns to keep the viewer guessing, even if they’ve figured out some of the major plot points halfway through the run time. Although it would be more enthralling if it gave its beginning main character more screen time, and the ending is more unsettling than expected, Hunter Hunter exceeds expectations otherwise and provides exceptional suspense elements and character moments.” Film Festival Today
” …the ending is strong and brutal and I did like it. Not what came just before the ending, but the actual ending! If you tend to like survival movies, then Hunter Hunter is definitely worth checking out – despite my misgivings for certain aspects.” Heaven of Horror
“Okay, this gets wild, Anne has turned into a savage, Thomas Hewitt (Leatherface from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) would want to work with her. This is so bizarre in such a good way. The psychological aspect of this film hits hard. Make sure to check out and watch Hunter Hunter.” HNN
“Hunter Hunter has the most intensely unexpected ending of any film released in 2020, hands down. Anger, rage, denial, cinematic verbal abuse, knots in my stomach, and a hefty dose of “no, you f*****g didn’t!” permeates the final 15 minutes or so of Linden’s film, and every bit of that is a compliment to the filmmakers and cast […] I can tell you with confidence that Hunter Hunter will easily place as one of the best films of the year.” The Hollywood Outsider
“The movie’s thickly wooded setting gives a shadowiness to the coloring that in turn adds a creepiness to Hunter Hunter‘s already moody and foreboding atmosphere. Great musical score that’s a mix of horror and indie rock, deep-dive acting from its committed performers, and editing that kept a brisk pace until the well-done climax make Hunter Hunter one not to be missed.” Horror Buzz
“The film has everything a great thriller should have, struggle, tension, and a host of emotions. It’s unique and gripping. And the ending, well it’s a doozy. I never saw it coming which is a rare thing these days. A combination of the horror, thriller, serial killer, and creature feature genres, Hunter Hunter has something for everyone.” Horror Fuel
“Despite being a North American production it has more of a European sensibility and is reminiscent of recent genre work from France. Go in knowing as little as possible, and I have done my best to do that here, and enjoy (if that’s the correct term, decide afterwards!) a bleak but unique indie horror surprise.” Horror Screams Video Vault
“Linden escalates the tension of this scenario with precision, and while it all builds toward some inevitable tragedy (a lot of tragedies, actually), Hunter Hunter still surprises. That’s never truer than during the film’s final sequence, which is so shockingly grisly that, even if one knows what’s coming (Linden hints at it right up until it happens), it’s impossible to prepare oneself for it.” Mark Reviews Movies
“Linden has crafted a fine film with interesting characters and a unique setting that allows a believable sense of isolation without outside electronic interference. He introduces images or sequences that may not make sense at first but wind-up fitting together in a puzzle that you eventually see was being put together from the get-go as part of a larger game and it’s all nicely filmed by Greg Nicod’s chilly cinematography. Performances rank high as well…” The MN Movie Man
“Sawa and Sullivan are fantastic in their roles, giving Joe and Anne’s relationship a complex, lived-in feel that allows them to bicker and fight without ever losing sight of the love holding them together. Howell also turns in a strong performance as the strong but sheltered Renee […] Terrifying and surprising at every turn, Hunter Hunter is a story about surviving without really living. It is grim and shocking, but it earns those shocks by laying a strong foundation of moving character work.” Nightmarish Conjurings
“I think an extra explanation or two might have helped me, at least, as I felt I missed something in my understanding towards the end. That said, the all-around solid performances and luscious cinematography made up for that so well that I didn’t mind: perhaps ambiguity works for the plot here, just as it does for the moral treatments.” Ready Steady Cut!
“There is no wasted action here – if Anne breaks down having to kill a rabbit or asks Renee to teach her how to skin a deer, those events will reflect with new relevance. Be forewarned – the film builds to an unspeakable crescendo of violence and gore, the director choosing what to show and not with great skill. In a year featuring many notable horror films, Hunter Hunter is one of its most unshakeable.” Reeling Reviews
“It’s clear the final minutes of the movie represent the only real idea Linden had for it, and that he retconned the remainder for the purpose of building up to the scene, which has been called “jaw-dropping” but was, to my mind, merely morally vacuous and gross. The movie’s antecedents—which include The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Manhunter and even the meretricious I Spit on Your Grave—had a more tenable sense of genuine humanity than this one…” RogerEbert.com
“Linden skillfully draws us into this narrative, emphasizing the nuts and bolts of hunting and the terrifying anonymousness of the drab and shadowy woods, before springing a series of startling traps—of both the narrative and literal variety. Mersault disappears for stretches of Hunter Hunter, which becomes a frightening story of how Anne desperately cleans up her man’s mess…” Slant magazine
” …the third act is where things get very insane and we see Lou’s true nature and we see one of the cringeworthy finales that takes a page of some great horror classics to say the least. It is absolutely jaw-dropping to see. Hunter Hunter starts out with a bit of a slow burn, but it then unleashes a shocking final act that horror fans are sure to be proud of.” World Film Geek
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Hunter Hunter was released theatrically in select locations, on Digital and On-Demand on December 18th 2020 by IFC Midnight.
Cast and characters:
Camille Sullivan … Anne
Summer H. Howell … Renee
Devon Sawa … Mersault
Nick Stahl … Lou
Gabriel Daniels … Barthes
Lauren Cochrane … Lucy
Jade Michael … Tina
Erik Athavale … Greg
Karl Thordarson … Officer #1
Blake Taylor … Cully
MOVIES and MANIA rating: