“Hunted” – Movie Review

Survival horror forces its audience to think about what they would do in life or death situations.  Shudder’s latest original film, Hunted does just that.  What starts as something out Taken quickly goes deep into “Most Dangerous Game” territory!

Hunter vs. Prey
The film opens with a campfire story that deals with the dynamics of hunters and prey.  It makes for a cool and atmospheric introduction, and winds up becoming a well-earned callback much later in the movie.

Campfire stories always make for great openings!

We then meet our protagonist Eve (Lucie Debay), a French woman who’s enjoying a night out.  She gets a ride home with a stranger who turns out to be far creepier than she could have imagined.

His plan involves forcing Eve into his own homemade snuff pornography, but she manages to escape into the woods and what follows is a tense showdown where both parties are tested and forced to become more animalistic to survive.

The wilderness and tension transform them both.

Third Act Misfire
For a film like this to work, it needs to be tension-build that culminates together in an edge-of-your-seat third act.  And while Hunted goes for this, it loses its way a bit towards the beginning of the third act.

We’re introduced to characters who will play a role in the finale, but doing so takes time and energy away from the flow that had been building for a while.  Had these other characters been seen earlier (which technically they are, but barely) it could have worked better.

Full Immersion
Hunted really makes use of its low budget by using the wilderness setting to its advantage.  The location is captured with beautiful cinematography and the we really feel like we’re there too, lost in the woods.  It probably helped Lucie Debay go into full “beast mode” as she does, becoming an unrecognizable warrior with skills in survival and savagery.

She’s downright unrecognizable by the end!

It’s brutally tense, gleefully gory, and while it does have some minor pacing issues, it does a great job of drawing you in and remains a fun watch.

Hunted is streaming exclusively on Shudder starting January 14, 2021

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