Review: The Hunters (18) / Directed by: Chris Briant / Screenplay by: Michael Lehmann / Starring: Steven Waddington, Chris Briant, Tony Becker, Diana Agron, Terence Knox, Jay Brown / Release date: Out Now
The Hunters makes great play of the facts that it “stars” Diana Agron (from TV’s Glee, apparently) and that it features music by Mark (X Files) Snow. But hold on there, put away your credit card…even Agron’s most fevered fans will be disappointed by what’s little more than a couple of blink-and-there-she-was-appearances by their musical heroine and let’s remember that Snow’s finest hour was the haunting theme to The X Files and that he spent the next nine years punctuating Mulder, Scully and co’s adventures with random irritating bits of tinkly piano background stuff. You might then, chose to take a chance on The Hunters because of its promise of a taut tale of tearaway teens being stalked around a forest by a terrifying predator - because that’s what the film’s publicity occasionally cheekily suggests is in store. Wrong again. What you get for your money is a dry, dreary and rather long-winded story about a group of disenfranchised middle aged men who trap and torture young people in an abandoned fortress in a forest in Luxemburg. And it’s not as much fun as it sounds.
The Hunters is entirely forgettable and for its first forty minutes or so it looks as if the plot has gone completely missing, replaced by a string of poorly-defined, desperately-uninteresting characters with little in the way of personality but a lot of traumatic psychological baggage which the sluggish script seems to think is enough to get by. Troubled Iraq War vet-turned-detective Le Saint (Briant) is concerned by the reports of a spate of disappearances and, despite the orders of his punchable shouty boss, carries out his own investigations which lead him to Fort Goben, a dilapidated old wartime fortress turned into a human game preserve by a bunch of disillusioned, downtrodden dead-enders.
Before Le Saint stumbles upon the secret of Fort Goben he bumps into the lovely Alice (Agron) and there are the first flickers of a romance. Unfortunately Alice scarcely appears in the film again and when she does there’s precious little connection between her and Le Saint. For reasons which strain credibility and coincidence to breaking point Alice and her pompous boyfriend end up at Fort Goben and become unwitting prey for the hunters. Fortunately Le Saint is already on the scene and has had a peculiar confrontation with one of the hunters but, with the others on the scene and determined to keep their secret lives undiscovered, Le Saint find himself trapped and hunted and fighting for his life.
If The Hunters is worth watching at all - and I’m not saying it is - then it’s for the last half an hour when something finally happens after forty-odd minutes of talking and walking about. The Fort Goben location is dripping with eerie atmosphere and serves as a wonderfully-effective stamping ground for the hunters and their prey but the film’s clumsy direction doesn’t manage to build on any of its potential for creating tension, the action scenes are poorly-handled and, with none of the characters having been depicted as particularly sympathetic, it’s really hard to care who lives or who dies or why the hunters have chosen such uncharacteristic and brutal behaviour just because they’re having a mid-life crisis.
Even by straight-to-DVD standards The Hunters, whilst it has decent production values and some acceptable performances, is just a waste of time as it takes far too long to get going and by the time it does your patience will have long since run out.
Special features: Standard fifteen-minute ‘making of’