Runtime: 71 Minutes
Director: Amy Taylor
Writer: Amy Taylor
Stars: Christopher J. Young, Benjamin Guenther, Emaline Williams
By Morgan Roberts
Written, directed, and edited by Amy Taylor, this mockumentary takes aim at hubris, toxic masculinity, and violence.
“Hunter’s Weekend” (2018) follows two park rangers as they prepare for their annual hunter’s weekend. Lyle (Benjamin Geunther) and Victor (Christopher J. Young) are prepared for what they hope is another great experience when one of the selected hunters is found dead. “We have really strict rules about hunting other competitors.”
Why would they have such strict rules? Oh, because everyone who is there to hunt hunts, actual people, like Richard Connell’s short story, The Most Dangerous Games, or the grounded Universal film, “The Hunt.” On top of that, the hunters are not just normal hunters but actual serial killers. With the death of the participant, Lyle and Victor go on the hunt (pun intended) for the killer.
Shot in 6 days with a minuscule budget, the film has some strong areas. First, there is a twist at the end of the film that was quite satisfying. It really rolled up the themes of pride and ego very well. The style worked well for this low-budget flick, relying on talking heads to build background, minimal variants in shots, and even the use of cellphone footage.
Nevertheless, the film felt uneven, at times. It didn’t quite know if it was meant to be a comedy or a full-fledged horror film. With films like “Tucker and Dale vs. Evil” (2010) and “Get Out” (2017), we know that comedy and horror pair well. But with “Hunter’s Weekend,” the comedy itself was a bit disparaging to women. Since it was written by a woman, I knew it was in there as satire, but if that background was not continually present in the viewer’s mind then the satire would be extremely sinister and bothersome. The horror elements worked well, playing on that fake-documentary style like “The Blair Witch Project” (1999). The jarring comedy already makes you uncomfortable but luckily, not enough to dull the impact of the horror scenes.
With a cool runtime of 71 minutes, the film does not drag, but there are times where the set-ups to future occurrences either make zero sense or are completely obvious. Again, the twist at the end completely saved the film, as it both made sense and you did not see it coming from a mile away. But, the twist itself did not save this film from itself. While satirical and meta in nature, much like the male characters in the film, the movie got a little too ahead of itself. I think if it had been a short film – under an hour – what felt like repeated elements could have been cut from the film and would have made it tighter and cleaner.
It is far from a perfect film. But, keeping in mind that its week-long production and shoe-string budget really helps you keep some of its shortcomings in perspective.