Hunting Season (2007)
Directed, written, produced, edited, and filmed by Nathan Wrann
There are times when I loathe my job. Sure there's plenty of perks. I get to go to cool places, hang out with cool people, and see plenty of films before they come out so I can fill you guys in on what's good and what sucks. It's the latter in this case that's causing me some heartache. You see, Hunting Season is a film made by a fellow horrorphile. It's pretty apparent what jack-of-all trades on this production, Nathan Wrann, was going for. He wears his love for this type of film proudly on his sleeve. Yet in the end he ultimately misses his mark on almost every level. Before I go any further let's start with the story.
A group of friends decide that they're going to have "the best weekend ever" so they pack up and head out into the woods for some sex and camping. Wasn't that a song? "I smell sex and camping, yeah ...", no wait, that was sex and candy. My bad. Anyways, upon getting to their destination they end up being attacked by a pair of crazies. Violence, screaming, and chase scenes ensue. A couple survive. Most die. Yadda yadda. We've seen it all before dozens of times, and that's Hunting Season's biggest problem.
Not only does this film bring nothing new to the slasher sub-genre, but almost everything we see in it is far too derivative of something else to be considered anything but a fan knock-off. Without question there's a fine line between imitation and inspiration, but come on! Wrann even goes so far as to recreate nearly verbatim the famous scene in Tobe Hooper's original The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (review here) in which a screaming victim is being chased through the woods by a madman with a chainsaw. Even though it was competently filmed, this just made me cringe.
Your inevitable next questions -- "So, Creepy, you mentioned Chainsaws. Is Hunting Season gory? How are the kills?" Sigh. Yes and no. Yes, in that there is blood, but no in that that's all there is. There's no slicing. No dicing. No real effects to speak of at all. Blood is either poured over or splashed on everyone. In short, the kills suck. I know this is a small budget film but so were countless others made during the late Seventies/early Eighties -- A period in time littered with films Hunting Season is clearly trying to emulate. The filmmakers behind those flicks, who didn't have anywhere near the tools filmmakers today have access to, at least found a way to offer a quick beheading or two. Hell, give me something! Anything other than some dripping blood and incessantly screaming chicks.
And then there's the camera work. Let me give you an example; Character one speaks ... camera pans left ... character two speaks ... camera pans back right ... Character one speaks ... camera pans left ... character two speaks ... camera pans back right ... this goes on endlessly and really takes away from the otherwise decent performances given by the actors. Shots are framed wrong, shots are out of focus, and the handheld camera work was so shaky at times I began to feel queasy. Mind you, this is coming from someone who plays first person shooters and loved The Blair Witch Project! Then when you think it could not get any worse we're treated to several impossibly long fade to black transitions during the film's climax thus nullifying any momentum or tension built.
What we have here is a film that tries to do a lot helmed by a director with far too much on his plate. There's no doubt Nathan Wrann has a future working in this industry. Given time to hone his craft and a budget to work with I'm sure we could see some really good things come out of his camp. I've certainly seen worse first time efforts but I still cannot recommend this one.
2 out of 5
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