The Hunting opens with a vaguely glimpsed furry creature killing a drunken fisherman under the full moon. When he doesn’t come home, his wife Sarah (Angela Cole, The Curse of Lilith Ratchet, Fighting the Sky) calls in a missing person report, one of several the town is dealing with. Chief Galligan (Daniel Repas, The Enormity of Life, Bed Bugs) sends Detective Ryan Conner (Peyton Hillis, former NFL Fullback and cover athlete on Madden NFL 12) and his partner Dave (Keith Migra) to look into it. Dave, I should add, is the chief’s son.
Meanwhile out at Talbot’s Wolf Sanctuary Maggie Talbot (Joelle Westwood) is coping with the one-year anniversary of her parent’s death and, with the help of Todd (Joaquin Guerrero, Warpath), keeping their dream alive.
Director Mark Andrew Hamer and co-writers Heather and Terrance Ryan, all making their feature debuts, layout the basics of a solid tale of lycanthropy in The Hunting’s opening minutes. We have our creature, our protagonists, and potential antagonists/red herrings. And as we hit the half-hour mark, a body.
Unfortunately, The Hunting has more on its mind than being a simple werewolf film. The fact it follows up the opening kill with a veteran sitting on a bench and a shot of the Stars and Stripes waving in the wind should have been a clue. Much of the film revolves around Connor’s issues and flashbacks to what happened to him while he was in uniform.
My father was career military and I have great respect for those who serve and sympathy for what they suffer as a result of it. But if you want to make a movie about PTSD don’t sell it as a werewolf film with a giant snarling creature on the poster. You’ll only alienate much of your intended audience who came to see a horror film, not a drama.
The Hunting does manage to keep things moving and avoids bogging down too badly despite the heavy subplot and the fact we don’t see the hairy guy between the opening and the hour mark. But when we do see the creature it’s a man in a suit, not CGI, and that is a very good thing.
As for who the creature is, that’s one area I’m very unhappy with how The Hunting plays things out. Throughout most of the film, it’s fairly obvious who the werewolf has to be. And going into the last act we seemly get confirmation of it. At which point the writers pull a new character out of their asses by way of a twist. When will writers realize, that’s not a twist, it’s a lazy cheat, especially with a character like this.
And that is what really hurts the film as far as I’m concerned. I expect a film like this will try to misdirect the viewer. But this is cheating the viewer and changing much of what we thought we saw during the film. It’s insulting to our intelligence to think viewers will simply accept it. Even more so since, with a bit of effort, they could have been worked into the story as a legit suspect.
In the final analysis, The Hunting is a badly flawed, but still watchable movie. It kept my attention up until the final reveals made me want to throw something at my monitor. And some people probably won’t have as much of a reaction as I did. Sadly, entirely too many people will probably think that it’s clever.
The Hunting is in limited theatrical release and available on Digital and VOD platforms from Vertical Entertainment. There will probably be a DVD/Blu-Ray release at some point, you can check the film’s website or Facebook page for details.