JUNE 27, 2010
Part of what makes a “found footage” movie work is the complete lack of typical camerawork. No tripods, no “master” shots (someone’s always off camera, unless they set it down or shoot in a mirror or something), no reverse angles during a conversation (unless they’re fucking up - see The Last Exorcism. But really, SEE IT, it’s good, they just goof on that aspect a bit), etc. Thus, you can totally buy into the reality. But no one told The Hunt director Fritz Kiersch that, because he constantly switches between a 1st person view and that of a typical movie camera, which not only kills the “reality” he is trying to present, but also makes the film confusing.
See, they seem to be using the same consumer grade camera for the POV shots as they are for the movie proper, so sometimes I wasn’t sure if I was looking at what the cameraman character was seeing, or what the cameraman for the film The Hunt was seeing. Not helping is the fact that either Netflix or the film’s creators did a piss poor job compressing the film, so half of the shots are blurry and pixelated. Add that to the natural darkness (it takes place in the woods, with anything of note happening at night) and you have a movie that’s actually kind of difficult to watch, as if the filmmakers (or again, Netflix) were testing your ability to process images and sound under extreme conditions.
Kiersch also has an unfortunate dual timeline approach to the film, where we’re constantly switching back and forth between the three folks that are lost in the woods (two guys and a little kid), and Cliff De Young’s own video documents of his attempts to find them. So right off the bat we know all 3 disappeared, which just makes the bulk of their scenes feel pretty boring, because nothing is fucking happening to them. At least in Blair Witch (which also tipped its hat about their disappearance) they were constantly being harassed, and Josh got taken away like 2/3s of the way through. But these guys just wander around, bickering about the drinking habits of one of the men (it would be awesome if it was the kid who was a drunk - not to mention more interesting; why can’t a grown man enjoy a sip of whiskey? He’s not even the one hunting!). It’s literally not until the final 10 minutes when something finally occurs that would explain the disappearance we’ve known about for well over an hour.
It’s also got a lot of go nowhere subplots, like De Young’s house being bugged, and a lengthy scene where the two guys work with him to get financing for their video. I understand the need to tie him into the story, but do we need 3-4 minutes going into minutiae about the percentage each man will take from the video’s profit? AGAIN - we know they’re dead! Is this supposed to make us feel the tragedy even harder? “It’s so sad, they will never split that 50% against the profits from the sales of each subsequent video...”. Get to the goddamn alien!
Oh, yeah, spoiler I guess (for a 4 year old movie that no one has posted about on its IMDb page for over a year). The thing that gets them is an alien. If I am following the movie’s vague explanations correctly, the government has these closed off sections of the woods where they keep aliens, and let them kill prisoners (I assume to study their hunting capabilities). Pretty awesome, right? Yeah, bury THAT, Mr. Kiersch, and spend 3 minutes on whether or not De Young’s maid has been dusting his bookshelves. Nice structure. This allows for a hilarious epilogue, however, where De Young goes to talk to the NSA’s UFO division (the guy has a placard on his door and everything! “National Security Agency - UFO Division”) about what he’s uncovered, the evidence of which is instantly shredded (and we learn in post movie text crawl, De Young was killed “accidentally” sometime later). Ordinarily I like these sort of things, but this one annoyed me because nothing that interesting actually happened in the movie itself, so you have a movie where the most exciting thing is shot with Times New Roman.
The actors make it passable. The kid’s not too bad, and Robert Rusler (Grady from Nightmare 2) is actually quite good as the cameraman slash “alcoholic”, and I wish he acted more often. He’s got a bit of an Adrian Pasdar quality to him, and there ain’t nothing wrong with that. And I always like De Young, even if he’s given an ill-conceived role that meant every time we see him, you know nothing exciting (or god forbid, SCARY) will happen until they go back to the other guys.
Ultimately, it’s just the type of movie that is sort of pointless to use for HMAD, as no one has ever mentioned it to me, and no one seems to want to talk about it, given its ghost town IMDb board (come on, even Cathy’s Curse gets a post every now and then) even though it’s pretty easy to come across given its position on Netflix Instant. The original point of HMAD was to engage in conversation about films with people, but this is the type of thing that I won’t remember in a week. So get those questions in quick, people!
What say you?