Hunters begins with a voiceover and assorted news footage telling us how civilization was brought down by a disease that either killed people or turned them into cannibalistic mutants. Then we’re dropped into the woods of the Pacific Northwest where a “Tracer” John T. Wrecker (Phil Burke, Cut Shoot Kill, Legend of the Lich Lord) is stalking some of those mutants while his internal monologue drops a ton of exposition on us
After killing one with multiple C4 charges, gunfire and a crowbar John heads back to the bunker he calls home along with Louis (Sanford Worth, Alien Siege), Grace (Nicole Craner) and a few other survivors.
Hunters’ distributor Shout! Factory calls the film “a bracing post-apocalyptic action juggernaut”. But in the first half-hour, there’s one mutant fight and one dragged-out firefight with a couple of looters. And that turns out to be a dream. What writer/director Justin Lee (Big Legend, Any Bullet Will Do) does give us is endless talk. Grace tells John at great length just how the virus affects the mutants, or scabs as they call them. Despite the fact “You already know all this.”
When they get a distress call from another group of survivors I hoped things would pick up. Instead, we watch John walk around a deserted building, roam through the woods and find an old lighter. When he finally does find a pair of mutants we get a few minutes of first-person shooter style footage. And then it’s back to the chatter.
I’m used to this kind of low-budget post-apocalyptic film, but this is particularly bad. Not quite as bad as The Directive, but not much better either. Ninety percent of Hunters is John wandering around on his own, nine percent is badly written dialogue and one percent is badly staged action scenes. Effects are limited to a Halloween mask for the mutants, some bones scattered around and a few explosions. At least the explosions are real and not CGI.
Apart from Hunters’three leads the only other actual characters in the film are John’s commanding officer (Ian Ziering, Sharknado, Zombie Tidal Wave) who appears in a couple of video chats and Uriah Reaper (Ed Morrone, Final Kill, Killing Lazarus) a disillusioned Tracer who John turns to for help in the film’s final act. But even then, despite a brief flurry of action and a “super soldier” type serum, the film can’t manage to get itself into gear. Even a death that should have been a pivotal plot point happens off-screen, probably because there wasn’t enough in the budget to film it.
This really feels like a short blown out to feature-length with endless shots of John wandering around in the forest and Ian Ziering’s scenes spliced in. But even with all the padding stripped out, the action is so badly staged and the plot so disjointed that Hunters still would be boring. If you’re going to stage the apocalypse with a handful of people and a pocket change budget you need the inventiveness of a film like How to Save Us. Hunters doesn’t have the inventiveness of your average TV show.
Hunters is available on Digital and on DVD and Blu Ray from Shout! Factory. You can check their website for more information.