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Featured DVD Review: The Hunters

December 26th, 2011

The Hunters - Buy from Amazon or Video on Demand

I'm trying to figure out when The Hunters was filmed. It features Dianna Agron of Glee prominently on the cover, so she's obviously being used to sell the movie. But is it the first film she made after Glee took off? (It was definitely made before I Am Number Four.) Or was it made before that show was a hit, but sat on a studio shelf for a year or two? I'm worried it is the latter. I'm worried it's a film that would have never come out on DVD, if she had not become famous in the meantime.

The Movie

The film begins with two storylines. Firstly, there's the story Le Saint (Chris Briant), a former army man who was injured in Afghanistan, retired from military life as a result and has just joined the police. It's mostly an administrative job, but he's made some connections in past cold cases. There have been a lot of disappearances in the county, and its neighboring counties, and he thinks there's a connection. However, his boss, Bernard, wants him to get an organized crime informant, François, who is going to testify on the crime boss he works for. He needs to get him and protect him till the trial begins. The second storyline involves a couple friends, Ronny and Oliver, who are both dealing with major midlife crises. They work jobs where they don't get a lot of respect and there's little hope for advancement. It's giving Ronny nightmares and they both just generally complain a lot about their lives. They used to go hunting to blow off steam, but a few years back, they started hunting humans instead.

Le Saint goes to Fort Goben to meet with François, but before he meets his informant, he runs into Ronny and Oliver. The pair give Le Saint the creeps, but he's got bigger issues to deal with. However, when he gets to François and the two of them try to leave, they find the front gate locked and the drawbridge raised. (It is an historical fort, so it makes sense it would be difficult to leave.) They've been trapped by Ronny and Oliver, along with their two younger hunters, William and Stephen, and the pair are now the latest prey in their hunting spree.

The movie's about halfway over before we finally get to that part of the plot. A lot of movie is just setting up the characters. This would normally be a selling point, as horror films tend to suffer from undeveloped characters. In many horror films, characters could be named Victim #1, Victim #2, Victim #3, and so forth, and it wouldn't negatively affect the plot. This is not the case here. However, the more we hear the hunters talk, the less interesting they become as characters. All the talk about warrior's death and getting back to nature and social suppression just made me roll my eyes. Even when the action started, we heard way too much of this psychological babble. Seeing characters who were not sympathetic in the first place having self-inflicted emotional meltdowns makes them less sympathetic. Even more troubling, the more they talked, the less scary they became.

As for Dianna Agron, she plays a supporting character. In fact, I believe she's in it less than one of the disposable hunters. (I didn't measure her screen time with a stopwatch.) Her character does get some development and is far more sympathetic than nearly everyone else (Le Saint is the only one that even comes close). The way she is shoehorned into the film doesn't quite work, especially how she gets shoved into the action late in the film. That felt so artificial, but I don't blame the actress for this and she makes the most out of her character.

The Extras

The only extra is a making of featurette. It is longer than most at 17 minutes and it doesn't feel like fluff, so it is better than many limited releases, but that's not saying too much. On a side note, it does mention in the making of featurette that she was cast in this before Glee came out, so I was partially right in my suspicion above. Although it was actually a French / Belgium / Luxembourg co-production, so it is not surprising that it took a while to get a release here.

The Verdict

The Hunters tries to create villains that have more depth than your average disposable bad guy, but in trying to do so, they weakened the bad guys and made them more pathetic than scary. I have read a few reviews online from genre critics and most are giving the film a better review than I am, so keep that in mind. There are not a lot of extras on the DVD, so even if you are interested in seeing the movie, a rental or Video on Demand might be enough.

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