Directed by Jon Cohen
Distributed by Left Films
In Jon Cohen’s ill-conceived The 7th Hunt, itself yet another post-Saw abduction/torture flick on a low budget, a group of two-dimensional individuals with close or loose ties to each other find themselves whisked away to an abandoned military facility by a group of apparently professional murderers, in order to take their places as the prey in the seventh of a series of regular kill-athons.
Said professional killers, headed up by a seemingly quite cultured gentleman in an expensive suit, like to refer to these murder parties as “hunts” – when, in reality, very little hunting actually goes on. Instead, each killer chooses their victim and then sets about torturing and killing them via their own particular methods. This is where writer/director Cohen attempts to imbue his film with some originality. We have The Knife, a creepy sadist who prefers to string his prey up and work them over with various blades; The Hand, the sexy oriental daughter of the aforementioned gentleman who psychologically and physically brutalises her quarry into killing themselves; The Inquisitor, whose methods involve crucifixion, truth serum, whips and chains; The Hacker, who enjoys cutting off the fingers of his prey on a regular basis as he forces them to try and hack their way through his impenetrable firewalls; and, finally, The Sniper – a silent, tactical executioner and the newest member of this group.
To Cohen’s credit, it’s not a particularly bad idea – on the surface promising some The Running Man-esque thrills through variation. Unfortunately, though, almost everyone involved lacks the skill to bring it all to life. Starting with the script – next to no information exists or is given as to the nature of these killers… whether this is some kind of professional organisation or just a self-subscribed club. The head of this group mentions police connections that keep them free from authoritative intervention, but no idea as to the scope of the proceedings is given or hinted at. As mentioned, there’s also very little in the way of hunting taking place, as the various protagonists are captured, tortured and murdered while the man in charge watches via CCTV and completes an electronic dossier on each, like we’re supposed to actually care that Little Ms. Privileged faced her impending death with more dignity than expected.
This leads us to major problem number two: the protagonists themselves. Woefully one-dimensional and therefore amounting to nothing more than the goth chick, the rich bitch, the womanising asshole, the office worker guy and the deaf runner chick. None of the actors manage to imbue these walking husks with any kind of unexpected layers or personality – save, perhaps, Imogen Bailey as the potential star athlete who happens to be deaf. Her realisation of the character far and away exceeds anybody involved here, including the killers. The various ties between these people are barely explored in the slightest, and having them separated and annihilated for most of the runtime gives the audience very, very little to actually give a shit about. By the time some real action gets under way and the remaining detainees get a chance to fight back, it would be unsurprising, and entirely forgivable, if many have already thrown in the towel and moved to some more rewarding endeavours.
A smattering of decently executed gore and violence isn’t enough to keep interest peaked amongst the blandly staged set pieces, and a couple of late-game twists are far too cack-handed to make any of it particularly worthwhile. Technically, while not an eyesore, The 7th Hunt is almost rife with unimaginative lighting and cinematography, uninspired direction, and plenty of obviously looped dialogue that in some cases is laughably unmatched to what’s on screen. All in all, it’s a clunky effort that offers nothing we haven’t seen a thousand times before and, sadly, will likely see a thousand times again. If watching vacuous characters bound, hung up, tortured and killed for no reason whatsoever floats your boat above a coherent, developed narrative, interesting direction and competent dialogue then feel free to dig in. For anyone else, the nugget of promise at the centre of The 7th Hunt might as well be encased in a core of amber, and surrounded with a thick layer of excrement. It begins with its heady ambitions on its sleeve, and then gleefully proceeds to piss it all away across the runtime. Shame.
As special features, Left Films’ DVD release of The 7th Hunt arrives sporting the trailer and a stills gallery.
1 out of 5
1/2 out of 5