‘Hunter Hunter’ Blu-Ray Review – Enthralling Wilderness Thriller Offers Unsettling Brutality

When one goes hunting, the act requires a great deal of patience before (hopefully) landing on a satisfying conclusion to your time invested. The same could be said of the grisly new wilderness thriller Hunter Hunter from director-screenwriter Shawn Linden. The unassuming independent feature presents itself as a slow-burn man-versus-nature endeavor before evolving into something much more shocking. 

This 1990s-set story follows a family living off the grid in a remote wilderness region of Manitoba trying to survive in the face of increasing economic hardship. Joseph (Devon Sawa, Final Destination and Casper) is a fur trapper who is trying to pass down his skills to his very excited teenage daughter, Renee (Summer H. Howell). Lately their prey has been getting snatched on a more frequent basis from their traps which signals the return of a wolf that is spoken about within the family in hushed tones. Back at the homestead his wife Anne (Camille Sullivan), much less enamored with the remote living situation, wants to report this dangerous wolf to the authorities, but a prideful Joseph is determined to track down the creature himself. The film sets up this confrontation as if they are old foes gearing up for one final showdown. 

Hunter Hunter is a film that I went into completely blind, and that is something I would not trade for anything. In an effort to preserve some of that fun for everyone else, this review is as spoiler-free as humanly possible. Devon Sawa delivers a confident performance as Joseph as he deftly makes his way through the wilderness in an effort to protect his family and his livelihood. The steely determination that flashes across his face as he is setting various traps and disappearing into the environment is chilling. This first half of this story may be considered a bit slow to some people, but it is essential to laying the groundwork and getting you emotionally invested in these characters. The glimpses you get of the wolf does set your heart beating faster until Joseph ultimately comes across something altogether more unsettling. 

The narrative delivers an outsider’s perspective in the form of the local forestry authorities (Gabriel Daniels and Lauren Cochrane) that Anne wanted to get involved. While they mostly spend their days responding to calls from yuppies being besieged by bears due to open trash cans, they cannot help when they are actually needed most due to the family (illegally) being on land outside of their jurisdiction. The rapport between these two characters adds some levity in a film filled with darkness, but narratively they do not offer much outside of more potential victims when a body count starts to form. 

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Outside of the wolf saga, the crux of the movie lies with Anne and her struggle to survive with Renee as Joseph’s absence grows longer. Not only does the threat of creatures in the forest linger in the air, but hunger soon becomes a real issue. Anne has never been one to indulge in the skinning of animals with her family, but with Renee’s help she learns what she needs to do to protect her child. As they await the return of Joseph, Anne finds an injured man in the woods (Nick Stahl, Sin City) who she reluctantly nurses back to health. It is unclear who this man is or what exactly he was doing so close to their cabin, but the answers pack a punch to say the least. For a movie that presents as traditionally masculine on the surface, the power of women is not taken for granted as we reach the jaw-dropping conclusion. 

Hunter Hunter is a film that will lead you down paths that you were not expecting, and you will love every minute of it. The slow build-up of dread is paid off beautifully in a grim finale that will make horror fiends happy they stuck around until the end. Shawn Linden utilizes an arsenal of skillful filmmaking tools such as sound design and score implementation to make this feature as creepy as possible. The performances are really excellent all around with Devon Sawa and Camille Sullivan working together in tandem to deliver something truly special. Those who take the time to immerse yourself into this world will not soon forget the journey. 

Video Quality

Hunter Hunter comes to Blu-Ray with a gorgeous AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 2.39:1. Where the transfer really shines is the impressive level of detail in even the subtlest aspects. Everything from the smallest facial details to the texture of the interior of the home is quite impressive and crisp. The cinematography features some nice pops of color with everything appearing very natural including the greens of the foliage within the forest that envelops most of the film. The color palette remains natural with an eye towards the wonders that nature provides. The picture is mostly clear with only brief instances of murkiness during a few darker scenes. Black levels are admirable but could stand to be a bit deeper in points. Skin tones are natural throughout with some impeccable details present in certain shots with scrapes and gashes. The film sports some luscious cinematography, and that is showcased pretty well here. Overall, this is quite a powerful transfer. 

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Audio Quality

The film comes with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track that is quite powerful and well balanced. Environmental effects play a substantial role in the film, and this track brings these elements to life quite capably. The use of the rear channels to create a fully enveloping world works quite well. The directionality is quite precise so sounds always present as natural when coming from their respective points. Dialogue comes through crisp and clear without being overwhelmed by any of the other sounds. Activity in the low end is sporadic but delivers quite a jolt when it pops up in the presentation. Scream Factory has delivered a fierce track for a film that capably brings this wilderness locale to life. 

Special Features

  • Trailer: A two-minute trailer is provided here which gives away a little bit too much for comfort. 

 

Final Thoughts

Hunter Hunter is a very thrilling and surprising film that will leave you with your mouth agape as the credits start rolling. This is a story that benefits from going in with as little knowledge as possible, but even after you know all of its secrets you will be itching to revisit it again. The performances are top notch all around and the cinematography is simply quite lovely. Scream Factory has provided a Blu-Ray with a very pleasing A/V presentation but not much in the way of supplemental features. If you are in the market for something thrilling and a little twisted, do not let this one pass you by. Recommended 

Hunter Hunter is currently available to purchase on Blu-Ray and DVD. 

Note: Images presented in this review are not reflective of the image quality of the Blu-Ray.

Disclaimer: Scream Factory has supplied a copy of this disc free of charge for review purposes. All opinions in this review are the honest reactions of the author.

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