Grindhouse meets arthouse, HUNTED leaves very little to the imagination and is best watched through fingertips.
Gritty, disturbing gore splatters much of the film with several injuries so gruesome that even I, as a seasoned horror pro AND a professional makeup artist, found myself cringing while averting my eyes. The makeup design by Coraline Perrin, special effects by Thomas Coqu, and sound design by Garret Farrell all commit to making this a disgustingly visceral experience–weak stomachs need not apply. Top that off with the excruciating violence against women via repeated visuals of attempted (seemingly committed) rape, assault, etc and you get a major content warning to the sensitive or those with a history of trauma.
“The company of wolves is better than that of man.”
A tale as old as time, but one that’s more prevalent than ever before. When Eve (Lucie Debay) meets a charming man (Arieh Worthalter) at a bar she’s immediately taken by his grin and his good looks. They dance, they drink, they kiss. Soon, however, she realizes he’s got an accomplice (Ciaran O’Brien) and her exciting night of fun romance turns into a nightmare. Eve must learn to use the nearby forest to guide her as she fights back once the death chase begins… This isn’t easy to stomach. Each flashback or image of The Man’s victims is more triggering than the last and it’s hard to watch such crimes be committed with very little left to the imagination. The wildly realistic and nearly overwhelming sound design–where you hear every catching breath & each sob–is almost too much to handle. Fantastic performances by the small ensemble cast keep us engaged even as the action and real life horror push us away. Debay is fierce, feral and has mastered “crazy eyes” in a way that would put Uzo Aduba to shame. She’s a wild, out of control woman pushed by anger and fear to become something of a crazed superhero–a Red Riding Hood gone rogue. Vengeance is her language and it’s the only dialogue we really hear from her for the whole latter half of the film.
There’s very little left unsaid in HUNTED, even as the dialogue becomes more minimal and the chase gets more intense, so be prepared for vicious visuals and topics that aren’t for dinner table conversation. Also, I can’t go without mentioning this is a beautiful film. The forest is as much of a character as our leads and from a technical standpoint it’s nearly untouchable.
I have to say from a personal standpoint the excellent overall quality of the film was marred by how difficult it was to watch. If I’d been a little more prepared that this wasn’t just your average cat and mouse game I would have felt differently, perhaps. If you’ve got a strong stomach this film will most likely blow you away, however if you’re just a little more sensitive–like me–or have trauma in your past that makes these sorts of events difficult to stomach then prepare yourself.
Go in with an open heart, maybe slightly covered eyes, and be careful not to hold your breath.
7 out of 10
Hunted – Premieres on Shudder January 14th in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand
Makeup Artist, Monster Maker, Educator, Producer, Haunt-lover, and all around Halloween freak. When Miranda isn't watching horror films, she's making them happen. When she's not doing either of those things, she's probably dreaming about them. Or baking cookies.