Expectations can play a big part in how one reacts to a film, good or bad. When I was first sent the publicity material for Zack Wilcox’s HUNTING LANDS they had me expecting a drama with a fair bit of action. Both the poster and trailer featured Frank (Marshall Cook) and his rifle. Add a plot summary that reads “HUNTING LANDS is the story of reclusive veteran Frank Olsen who yearns to escape from the complexities of the modern world. Unfortunately, despite his efforts, the world comes looking for him. When he discovers a discarded, beaten woman fighting for her life in the snow, Frank must decide whether to continue to turn his back on society or confront the world he loathes.” I was expecting a reclusive ex-military type forced to fight again when whoever left the woman there came back to finish the job. What I got was a lot of wonderful cinematography and a lot of art-house drama.
There’s actually very little of anything that could be called action in HUNTING LANDS. There’s not a lot of talk either, much of the film, including the first 18 minutes, has no dialogue. This does make sense since often it’s just Frank alone or with the unconscious woman but it also makes things drag considerably. What dialogue there is varies between blatant exposition and attempts at being philosophical and meaningful. The final fifteen minutes tries to build some suspense but it’s too little too late and all too predictable. The resolution is obvious and leads to a final scene you’ll see coming.
I may have liked HUNTING LANDS a bit more if had known what I was getting. I knew it wasn’t going to be another BLASTFIGHTER but the trailer’s constant showing of firearms led me to expect at least some action. I’m fairly sure anyone else who is drawn in by it will be similarly disappointed.
HUNTING LANDS plays the 2018 Cinequest Film & VR Festival. Showtimes and ticket information are available here.