Hunting Ava Bravo is a first for me, a Roku Channel Exclusive Movie. I didn’t know Roku had original or exclusive movies, but since every other streaming platform from Netflix to Tubi has them, I shouldn’t have been surprised that they do. The real question is, are they any good? The answer probably won’t surprise you.
Ava Bravo (Kate del Castillo, The 33, Bad Boys for Life) wakes up in a cabin somewhere in the snowy woods. A prerecorded message tells her that five miles due North is a snowmobile that will get her to civilization. The catch is that elite sportsman Buddy King (Marc Blucas, Red State, Unearth) will be hunting her as she tries to get to it and he’ll be coming up from the basement in a matter of seconds.
As he steps out of the cabin she ambushes him, beats him senseless, and heads for the snowmobile. But it can’t be that easy, can it?
Director Gary Auerbach (You Wrote It, You Watch It, The Offensive Show) and screenwriters Julie Auerbach (Babysitter Must Die, Stay Out of the F**king Attic) and Kevin Tavolaro (Ancient Aliens, Blood Relatives) set Hunting Ava Bravo up as a very economical variation on The Most Dangerous Game with two leads a couple of incidental characters and a lot of trees.
Indeed, the first act of Hunting Ava Bravo is almost entirely a one-woman show as Ava treks out to the location only to find nothing but booby traps, forcing her to go back to the cabin where Buddy has recovered and made himself dinner despite still wearing the handcuffs she put him in. And it doesn’t get much better after she gets back to the cabin, although we do find out why she was chosen for his latest hunt.
Even when what looks like a refugee from one of the Wrong Turn movies breaks into the cabin it doesn’t get much better. Ava just stands there for what seems like an eternity watching as he beats up on Buddy even though he’s the only one of them that knows the way out of the woods. Then she uses a tranquilizer on him.
This could have been a reasonably suspenseful game of cat and mouse played out in the snowy forest. John Hyams got incredible mileage out of a similar plot in Alone, as have other filmmakers. Auerbach is content to spend most of Hunting Ava Bravo’s run time letting the two characters talk at each other as they stumble through the woods.
You know at some point Buddy will get the gun back, but the pace is so glacial that there’s no sense of danger or tension. For a film called Hunting Ava Bravo, there’s actually very little hunting going on until the final act and even much of that is poorly staged. Buddy is too obsessed with hearing the story of how Ana survived a previous abduction to simply kill her and an encounter with a pair of hunters that should have been an action setpiece is over almost before it begins.
Hunting Ava Bravo is one of the dullest hunting human films I’ve seen. It almost seems more concerned with being a talky drama about trauma and recovery than a thriller but the dialogue isn’t up to the task of making that compelling. It’s all tedious to the point that even the cast seems bored and wants it over with. And I can’t really blame them, standing around in the snow delivering dialogue this bad couldn’t have been a good experience. It’s a major disappointment from the writers of the surprisingly good Babysitter Must Die.
Hunting Ava Bravo is available on The Roku Channel where available. It’s on Amazon Prime in some other territories. Either way, there’s no real reason to hunt down Hunting Ava Bravo. Or you can consult FilmTagger for some similar, and hopefully better, films.