‘HUNTER Hunter’ is described as a horror movie but it’s surely more than that. It’s not about ghosts or anything supernatural but what happens in the course of the story is really horrifying. The gruesome ending is stomach-churning and so difficult to watch.
The story is about a man, Joseph (Devon Sawa, the former teen idol best remembered for “Final Destination”), his wife Anne (Camille Sullivan) and their teenage daughter Renee (Summer Howell), who live in isolation in a remote forest by choice, just like the father and daughter in the serious drama, “Leave No Trace”.
They earn a living as fur trappers, trapping animals and selling the hides in the town below. Joseph has trained daughter Renee how to trap and skin the animals. Anne as the mom just stays home in their modest cabin, doing chores like cooking, washing clothes and getting their water from the river.
They live a very simple but tranquil life amidst the beauty of nature, but all their peace and quiet is disrupted when a bad wolf starts on eating the animals that they’ve trapped, threatening their livelihood. Joseph decides to hunt down the wolf to eliminate this threat on their means of living. Renee accompanies him. Anne protests as it can be so dangerous, but he won’t listen.
In the wilderness, Joseph finds some wolf tracks on the ground and decides to send Renee back home for her own safety. He goes on his own and discovers something else, and he never gets to return to their cabin.
Anne starts worrying when he fails to come back and reports to the cops in the town. The cops say their laws do not apply in the mountains which is under federal jurisdiction. And if the federal government would find out they’re just squatting there illegally, then they might even be evicted from their cabin. Later on, the male cop would investigate in the forest and he is the most bumbling cop you’d ever see.
Anne continues to agonize over Joseph’s absence, then one night she hears someone crying in pain in the forest. She thinks it might be her husband, but it turns to be a man, Lou (Nick Stahl, another former child actor best known for “Man without a Face” with Mel Gibson), who says he is a wildlife photographer attacked by a wolf. Anne brings him home, cleans his wounds, gives him medicine and even feeds him.
That’s about all that we can share with you as to say anything else would criminally spoil your viewing pleasure. Ultimately, the film is really a backwoods horror flick and a man versus the elements story that spirals into a much darker terrain as the body count goes up. You just can’t foresee where it is going to.
What starts as a placid, fairy tale-like movie about a family of survivalists turns out to be a very brutal, corpse-littered tale that those who are squeamish and faint of heart would do well wise to avoid as it might make them sick, just like the movie “Bone Tomahawk” starring Kurt Russell.
Writer-director Shawn Linden gets the horrifying effect he desires when he starts with the unconventional family living in their own paradise. As the story progresses, which is quite fast-paced at 90 minutes, it gradually becomes their descent into hell to show that it’s not wild animals who are the fiercest predators in life.
The acting is mostly fine, with Camille Sullivan standing out as the wife Anne. Actually, she’s already tired of their life in the woods and prefers to settle back into town. The prices of the fur they trap and sell have gone down, but the prices of all the commodities they buy in the town have gone up.
She also thinks their daughter should have a normal growing up years in school and with boys, but her husband is so obstinate in his decision to live far away from civilization. And that is a choice for which he and his family will pay oh so dearly!