Set among the remote wilderness of Canada and on the brink of civilization, Joseph Mersault (Devon Sawa), his wife Anne (Camille Sullivan) and daughter Renee (Summer H. Howell) have chosen to take up residence as fur trappers, living off the land with scant food supplies.
I say chosen, but it’s fairly obvious early on that Joseph is the one overseeing that decision, and Anne appears somewhat reluctant and grows tired of the struggles of living in such a remote place.
There are hints that Joseph is not happy among people, but it’s never fully explored why this is. Needless to say, he is content to immerse himself in the rugged terrain and has taken to teaching or rigorously training his daughter Renee how to survive in primitive ways and learning the animal traits that will ensure their survival.
Fairly early on, the family fear that a wild wolf has returned and threatens their safety, so Joseph swears to protect them and go on a hunt for the beast. As he stalks his prey however, he stumbles across a more sinister scene as a ritualistic circle of half naked female corpses lay.
Now any sane man would take the information to the police but Joseph is a lone wolf himself and as hinted at earlier communication and social interactions are a distant cry from the characters involved. Instead, Joseph sees it upon himself to venture out and find the killer.
Meanwhile, Anne and Renee are left to fend for themselves and have a fearful encounter with the wolf, but with Joseph’s absence drifting into days, Anne goes to the police to inform them of the vicious brute, only to be dismissed.
With no choice but to embrace their situation, Anne and Renee set out to protect their home, when a wounded man (Nick Stahl) appears one night. Anne has no choice but to aid this stranger, but is there more to him than meets the eye?
Hunter Hunter walks a fine line in its exposure of mankind at its most vulnerable and yet most violently animalistic and vicious. Throughout the films admittedly slow pace, we are left pondering the direction that Shawn Linden is taking us on. Is it a survival horror film? Is this a case of beast vs man? Or does it suggest that there is more to the wild than the beast that lies in its natural habitat?
It is held together by some fine performances, most notably with Sawa and Sullivan.
The slow shambling tension that lurks in its depths brutally awakens with a savage conclusion, drawing out the most feral of humanity when pushed to the brink.
Some may find the closing scenes too gruesome to bear, but the final moments are one that haunts.
- Saul Muerte