Directed by Fritz Kiersch
Produced by Jonathan de la Luz and Danny Martin
Written by Fritz Kiersch and Jonathan de la Luz and Danny Martin
Director of Photograpy Michael Goi
Music by Sean Morris
Cast: Joe Michael Burke, Robert Rusler, Cliff De Young, Mitchell Burns, Amy Briede

2006/90 mins/Color/Dolby Digital 5.1
1.78:1 anamorphic/English/USA/NTSC Region 1

Review from Image Entertainment DVD

I can remember exploring the woods near my home as a boy. At times, I would lose my bearings and not know which was to go. There's nothing more frightening than that suddenly feeling of being lost in the woods, where trees are the only landmarks. It would certainly be exhilarating and scary if a movie could reproduce that sensation. THE HUNT is a low-budget indie film which tries to do just that.

THE HUNT introduces us to entrepreneurs Jack (Joe Michael Burke) and Atticus (Robert Rusler). Jack is an expert bow-hunter and Atticus is a veteran TV-news cameraman. They have decided to create a series of instructional videos where Jack demonstrates the proper techniques for stalking deer. The two have secured financing through Jon (Cliff De Young), the ex-husband of Jack’s wife Tressa (Amy Briede). In order to ensure success, Jack has secured time on a private deer reserve. Jack decides to take his young step-son Clint (Mitchell Burns) on the hunt, and Atticus has created a special helmet-cam for Clint so that he can capture all of the action.

The trio enters the woods early one Saturday morning and begin their hunt. Despite some early problems, they soon spot a deer and begin to track it. However, they suddenly come to a large fence and find that the deer has crawled under it. Despite the “No Trespassing” signs, Atticus convinces Jack that they can’t stop now, and they go under the fence as well. As night falls, they begin to see and hear odd things, and they become convinced that they aren’t in the woods alone.

THE HUNT joins that pantheon of low-budget movies which offer a good premise and then don’t know what to do with it. The “people going into the woods” genre is nothing new, but the idea of a group exploring the forest to make an instructional video is a novel one. This gives them not only a plausible reason to be there, but also a legitimate excuse to keep going. These aspects of the movie are wholly believable and almost play like a documentary.

Unfortunately, THE HUNT also joins a less desirable group of low-budget movies -- those where nothing really happens. The DVD box claims that THE HUNT has the “horrific elements of THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT”, and it does -- in the sense that we get to watch three people walk around the woods while nothing happens. Director Fritz Kiersch (CHILDREN OF THE CORN) wants to create a sense of dread and doom, but this fizzles because we never really get the sense that Jack, Atticus, and Clint are in any danger.

To heighten the sense of urgency, the story is told in two timelines. In one, we see the two men and the boy exploring the forest. In the other, we witness, the aftermath of their trip, where we are told that something tragic has happened, and Jon and Tressa stage a search and rescue. However, even when armed with the knowledge that something bad happens, watching Jack, Atticus, and Clint on their journey is fairly boring. It’s only during the last 15 minutes that the film confirms that the group isn’t by themselves in the woods, but by that time, many viewers will have fallen asleep. And even the last few minutes, which do offer some action, provide very little comfort or explanation to the proceedings. Combined with the down ending, I felt that I’d wasted my time with this journey.

Unlike many low-budget horror films, which are bad from the get-go, THE HUNT shows a great deal of promise. The acting is well above par for this sort of production, and nothing in the movie says low-rent. Kiersch has given the movie a nice look and the deep woods feel authentic. But, the movie also lacks any real suspense or action and the end result, with its multiple sub-plots, is more of a drama than horror or sci-fi. THE HUNT isn’t a disaster, but don’t make any great quest to see it.

THE HUNT tracks its way to DVD courtesy of Image Entertainment. The movie has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The movie was shot on HD and it looks great. The image is quite sharp and clear, showing no grain or defects from the source material. The image has an tremendous amount of depth, making the forest seem very vast. The colors look great, as the greens and browns of the woods never bleed into one another. The nighttime scenes are clear and the action is always visible. I noted no overt pixellation or artifacting here. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The sound design is well-presented here, as there are some nice stereo and surround sound effects which heighten the feeling of being in the forest.

THE HUNT DVD offers onto two extra features. “THE HUNT Chronicles” is a 21-minute making of featurette. It contains comments from executive producer Gray Frederickson, writer/producers Jonathan de la Luz and Danny Martin, and actors Joe Michael Burke, Robert Rusler, Mitchell Burns, Amy Briede, Thomas Cunningham, and Brett Bower. In an odd decision, the comments aren’t edited together. Each speaker talks for a few moments and then we move on to the next person. Each discusses their involvement with the film. There is some behind-the-scenes footage, but we are mostly treated to clips. The only other extra is the THEATRICAL TRAILER for the film, which is letterboxed at 1.78:1, but not 16 x 9.





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Review by Mike Long. All Right Reserved. 2007. ©