The Hunters (2011)
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I never let the words "low budget" or "independent" put me off a film, I've seen some great films by looking for this kind of stuff. I've also seen some terrible ones and this baby just joined the list very near the top.
OK so marketed as a horror film you soon realise it's anything but. NO matter, I like a good thriller...which this ain't. Confused is the words that comes to mind. Filmed in France but set who knows where, dodgy American accents mixed with a large portion of French language. Plot could be written on the back of a postage stamp but somehow ends up with a 1hr 50min film...
For me the film as advertised started at the 1hr 30min point and by then I was losing the will to live. The main location was interesting but was never used to it's full potential and the effects! Good God the effects... Body parts straight out of a dusty corner at The London Dungeon, guns with holes in the end only an airgun pellet would fit through, watery blood and the most amazing trees that shoot sparks when hit with bullets.
Acting wasn't horrendous given what they had to work with, music was OK. Cinematography was OK with the notable exception of the nightmare scenes which where, frankly, shamefully bad.
Words fail me.
Something strange is going on with these ten-star reviews; I suspect they are from people connected with the movie who are trying to balance out the one-stars --- which are the honest ones. Whoever wrote this needed to take a class in screen writing because it was a misuse of the actors; the dialogue was wooden...but the worst part was the lack of tight plot structure. I gave it a fair shot --- watched for about an hour and suddenly sat up and said "this is not happening." It's not a matter of being "different" or "non-linear" or any comments that try to make strengths out of weaknesses. This truly crumbles.
There is some excellent casting for the leading hunters and the main enemy, but the other characters are often miscast, overplayed, or underwritten. Certain scenes feel improvised, while others just seem to go on and on. The lead actor seems to be rather miscast for his role, which is strange since he apparently directed. There are also characters that just kinda drop in and out of the movie, especially the lead (only?) female.
The editor seems to be trying to make this into a horror movie, but it's not, and the nasty jump cuts and random shots of some dude yelling are not scary, they're annoying. The editing overall leaves a lot to be desired, leading me to wonder if the director cut the movie as well, since there's no editor listed in the IMDb crew page.
There was a pretty good movie to be had here had the script thought of better uses for the location and the actors been reeled in by a better director. But overall, it's better than bad, and if you're scouting for an incredible castle in Germany (?) you could do worse than watch this. Perhaps it's best to just think of it as a weird travelogue to Fort Goben.
On a positive note, the filming locations were absolutely fabulous, the cinematography was of high quality in every respect, and even though the English spoken in the film was regarded as 'bulky' by some reviewers, you cannot really dismiss the fact that it is a French/Belgian movie. I, for one, thought all the way it was set in Canada (in Quebec), in that case, the language inconsistencies of the film would have been pretty well explained :-).
You could say that the acting was somewhat peculiar, but "peculiar" does not necessarily mean "bad". After all, French/Belgians films sometimes have a different take on acting. Think of, for example, 'Calvaire', that contains as much strange humour as 'The Hunters', you just need to be able to notice it :-).
All in all, 'The Hunters' is a rather strange experience meant not for everyone; on the other hand, as mentioned in other reviews, it offers you very nice photography, absolutely fabulous filming locations (the fort!), some sociological commentaries, and a rather decent cast, the tempo of the film is pretty slow, but in this case, it only compliments the piece.
Why the hell was that (beautiful) girl introduced? Why did she whisper "I'm sorry" while pushing away her boyfriend in that one scene? I though the story was going to get better at that point, thinking that she was not who she portrayed. But no, that scene was just a failed scene. And why the extra story with the Chief of Police and the cop and the guy he had to protect? Who the hell knows. Completely illogical!
I had ideas in mind on how it may have ended and how I would have ended it. But it didn't go that way and so the four rating. The actors were OK but the story line they were given was not of this movie. This movie should have been one of those three or four stories tying together everybody in the end. Not this either. Oh well, nice try mr. director.
Where does this movie take place? France? America? Canada? Why does it take 23 minutes to even get an idea of what this movie "might" be about? Don't even think about watching this film high, drunk or on drugs because it will sober you up quick.
To the writer of this film, I wish I had the money you obviously have. I'd take a few wads of hundred dollar bills and smack you in the face with them repeatedly. This has to be the worst b-movie I have ever seen. Watch at your own risk.
Alice and her friends are approaching the end of the school year where their dead-end lives will end and the chance of a new life will begin. Before heading off to college they spend one last day together in the woods, the one part of town that has always been off limits to them growing up. As they stumble upon what they thought was an abandoned fort only to find the walls dripping in blood and decomposing body parts lying around, they are startled to learn they are now a part of an undercover investigation. After being told to get out of the woods they realize they're trapped, for the Hunters, who call the fort home, never let anyone out alive.
Yep...not true. "Alice" is barely in the movie. Her friends and her do not go to the woods. There are hardly any friends in the film other than a random guy she runs into. But if you look at the top of the IMDb page it says this---
"A new police officer wants to meet up with somebody in an abandoned fort in the woods. What he doesn't know is that the place also serves as a meeting point for a group of hunters - whose prey aren't animals."
That's what The Hunters is actually about. The concept and idea behind The Hunters is kind of interesting, men looking for a thrill and hunting humans for sport. It has moments of being outstandingly gory and even some half decent performances but The Hunters doesn't deliver itself in the proper way and is slapped together with a forced performance by a TV "It Girl." Steven Waddington and Tony Becker give solid performances in their lead roles. I actually think they give performances far beyond that of what this movie really is. The TV "It Girl" is Glee's Dianna Agron. She gives and is what I can only described as a complete and utter waste of a character. She has no point to the story and maybe they edited her part down to nothing but it literally is pointless. Chris Briant gives a solid performance as the main hero of the film. His character actually has a good arc and is well told.
Briant is also the director of the film but I don't believe it is his directing or his performance is the issue. I think the problem is with the messy script. You don't really know what direction it is going and the crime angle of the story is almost unnecessary. The film is not a total waste once you wade through the unfortunate aspects. Still this thriller is easily miss-able. 6/10
The plot... or plots... or lack of a plot... is the most glaring and intensely mind numbing problem with the film. It hits you from the outset: the threads are all there if held together by nothing else than the most tenuous of links, but they seem to have been crafted and developed with much the same skill as high school short story. Lamentably though, had this been a high school short story then at least the teacher would have taken their red pen to each page and scored the word 'Drivel' across it. And, don't even get me started on the absolutely massive glaring holes in what little plot there is.
This lack of plot is compounded by the fact that none of the actors can actually act so what little character development there is, is entirely unbelievable at best and largely ends up being laughable. I mean, I actually guffawed more than once at the terrible terrible lack of acting skill. I don't think the cast were entirely to blame though, the script was so utterly clichéd and clumsy that there really was no other way to deliver it.
As you might think, surely the cinematography would make up for this. Well, I have two words for you BLUE FILTER. This to me, is an absolute giveaway that all is not well - when every scene has a blue hue added to it and the scene desaturated in post production. And whilst on the topic of production, did they lose ANY scenes in the edit? I mean ANYTHING? I'm surprised they just didn't string the rushes together and call it job done.
The location is, erm, repetitive - if you like looking at the walls of forts (or more accurately the same wall of a fort) then you will love this. Also, wet leaves feature quite a lot as do incredible bullet attracting and spark producing trees. It's an incredible coincidence that every single bullet that didn't meet its target hit the nearest tree and produced a shower of sparks. And, someone explain to me the problem with the breath - now you see it... now you don't... even in the same scene the temperature apparently changes wildly. As for Special FX... the blown off leg was particularly hilarious, as were the mounted heads - I can't tell you how bad they were - Like Hammer Horror but without the tongue in cheek self awareness.
All in, utterly awful - I cannot recommend enough that you employ the two hours of this film's duration in any other way possible but watching it.
The movie starts slowly, trying to introduce us to the characters with boring unrehearsed dialogue and repeating harmonium tunes. The repeating tunes I found quite annoying to be honest as they are there, no matter what the protagonists are doing. Is someone's head been cut off? (you wish) Harmonium tune. Are the protagonists kissing ? (You wish again) Another Harmonium tune...
Frankly, I can not understand the persistence of some producers in investing their money in such ways. This particular movie has not a single ingredient that can produce the slightest revenue. There is no blood (not really), no suspense, no action, no nudity, no romance. The target group for this movie could only be Dianna Argon fans, who are going to be very disappointed since she is basically a guest star, with no actual reason to be cast in this movie. I will not get into specific details (I do not want to spoil it for you), but the ending is a bad cliché, and Dianna's only reason of being there (besides making some extra cash in her Glee break)is because someone is not a hero until he has saved a cute blonde from the claws of evil madmen.
Why Lehman introduced a third rate police angle into the mix, and a horrendously trite and overly clichéd reveal, is beyond comprehension.
I rarely say this, but because THE HUNTERS is so poorly crafted, I recommend avoiding this mess at all costs – so you won't fall prey to giving the producers one thin dime (or euro in this case).
At some point I felt like watching a movie done by college students! low budget is not an excuse, I've seen so many interesting low budget movies that really take you there, to the thriller atmosphere. For instance, the caller (2011) has all the elements of a good thriller movie.
It also failed to deliver the psychological part which made the script much more fragile. With some movies you know that you shouldn't expect a lot from the beginning but this one had a good start somehow which I hated because it fools the viewer to expect more when there is nothing coming that worth to watch.
After I watched this, the only sentence that was in mind is " are they serious? "
There are several interlinking plot threads:
It's the run-up to Christmas, and our hero (of sorts) is Le Saint. He is a partially recovered traumatised war veteran with PTSD, caused by setting off an IED in Afghanistan. He is reinstated into a mostly bureaucratic role as a law enforcement agent. His obnoxious boss lands him with the job of bringing a local mob figure into witness protection. Due to circumstances beyond his control, the original contact point is compromised and so Le Saint arranges to meet his new charge at an old abandoned military fort.
Meanwhile, Le Saint has met Alice whilst jogging in the park and there is a mutual attraction. However, Alice's aspiring boyfriend has arranged to take her somewhere "different" for a little sightseeing on her birthday.
The hunters of the title are two disaffected middle-aged men – a teacher and a computer repair technician. They hang out around the old fort and surrounding forest area with two young thugs who it seems they are in the process of mentoring as part of some sort of social rehabilitation process. Every weekend the four go "hunting."
Then there is Le Saint's boss who has warned him explosively and in no uncertain terms to stay away from the fort and to drop his interest in the high percentage of missing persons cases within a thirty mile radius of the city.
All of these characters and their trajectories are on a collision course. And the abandoned fort is at the centre of the impact.
It's a slow burner, but it sets up its premise with care and skill. When it kicks into action at the mid-point it becomes a relentlessly tense and convincingly violent fight for survival and the four hunters are revealed for what they are as well as what they've been doing. The mystery of the statistical excess of missing persons in the area is uncovered, along with the link to Le Saint's boss. This leaves Le Saint fighting for his life against almost impossible odds.
The Hunters is well filmed, exciting and visceral without lapsing into the standard overload of gore and pornographically explicit torture effects beloved of such mainstream flicks as SAW and Hostel. It has more than its fair share of sickness and sadism, but just as much is left to the imagination as is actually shown.
Yes, it has problems; the narrative relies on contrived coincidences to drive it and there are a few head-scratching wasteful scenes – like the freak handing out the fortune teddy bears. These elements drag it down somewhat, as does some of the occasionally painful overacting. Still, stick with it until it boots into high gear and it's a good investment of time.
Hopefully it now sounds more like what it actually is and less like the cookie-cutter teen-slash brain-drainer it is inexplicably being marketed as here.
We can sense that the movie ambitiously borrowed from psychological masters (Kubrik, Hitchcock,Soderberg )whitch marks a clear difference with the average other horror movies.
It is the real strenght of that movie! Everyhing, the filming, the music, the lights,the acting is set to maintain the public in this rising uncomfortable environment until the fatal and ultimately violent ending that I really enjoyed!!!! The movie may seem long, especially the first half hour, and the casting is also very unusual, but You should not let those details influence you, after all, it is a first movie and the result is a good quality product! I recommend it!
The Hunters is not a teen movie. It's a very very special horror-mystery-thriller, it's unlike anything I've seen before. Of course there's plenty of mistakes. Some actors don't deliver the same intensity than Waddington, Briant, Becker and Brown. Some prosthetics effects are tricky and the director could have been more visual for certain sequences. The use of 1.85 format is obviously a wrong choice for filming such a place. There's not enough general shots. I think the director suffers from a lack of confidence in his choices. Sometime you would expect him to go further than a simple angle/reverse angle scene. But nothing serious. I think this is a promising first film and because it kept me breathless from the beginning to the end I'll give a 9 out of 10. I think this is worth it to discover it.
He opts to go find out on his own and by this time you're asleep. The gory stuff is done off screen. This is not a teens going to the wrong place and being tortured type of movie. Fairly lame in slasher terms.
F-bombs, no sex, no nudity, a homo-erotic dance.
Like many already said, sparks flying off trees is slightly silly to say the least.
I don't really understand why Terence Knox and Tony Becker went for this movie, other than maybe they wanted to work together again and/or got a free trip to Europe out of it? Take my advice: Next time pay for your own holiday to Europe, grin. At least ya save yourself the bad critics and stuff.
And why the heck mix up French and American in one movie? French people speaking English is just ... horrible! (Read with French accent for effect, please). It's like watching "Allo, allo", except then the bad French accents were funny.
Also, some people mention there's romance in this movie. I must have dozed off?