AMERICAN HUNT ** USA 2019 Dir: Aaron Mirtes. 80 mins
A slick but empty take on the rich-hunting-the-poor action / horror trope from the director of CLOWNTERGEIST and CURSE OF THE NUN. Two young couples take a camping trip on the 20 acres of farmland owned by the leery, weird Memphis (Brad Belemjian) and his brother Levi (Taylor Novak), in the middle of nowhere during hunting season – and with sporadic cell phone service. No sooner has Levi’s girlfriend (Lucy Hartselle) refused to participate in any animal hunting then the two siblings lay out the groundwork of their secret plan all along: their guests have ten minutes to hide while they hunt and kill them. Limited rules include “No torturing, it’s too risky”, though twitchily unhinged Memphis plans to get his sadistic jollies anyway. “You’ve been dating him for four months – didn’t you notice anything weird?” Trite dialogue and annoying antagonists sink this unimaginative, umpteenth take on territory so familiar that THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME is namechecked on screen. The villains are yet another spin on the fidgety, disaffected Generation X psychopaths of the SCREAM era (“Why are you doing this?” / “Because it’s fun!”) and there’s no one worth rooting for in a short but repetitive chase scenario slightly enlivened by cartoonish exploding heads. Someone actually says on screen “It’s either hunt or be hunted”. The script takes a turn into heavy handed satire via religious fundamentalists and a church saving for a new cross, but the obvious final twist asks us to accept a complete U-turn from a key character. The similarly named theatrical release THE HUNT was a broader political satire built around the same basic set-up and was a lot more fun.
Review by Steven West