CLIMATE OF THE HUNTER *** USA 2019 Dir: Mickey Reece. 82 mins
The Vampire in film has changed from the Gothic into the killing machine, partying teenager, and now, mysterious adults bent on befuddling their friends. Returning to destroy the one that loves you is a recurrent theme in all vampire literature and film. Mickey Reece’s CLIMATE OF THE HUNTER (2019) takes that motif a step further with his splendid, talky homage to the Undead “Big Chill.”
Two sisters, Alma (Ginger Gilmartin) and Elizabeth (Mary Buss), along with their dog that they call a “philosopher,’ have come to a remote house to reconnect with mutual friend Wesley (Ben Hall) after twenty years. Alma is recently divorced, Elizabeth is a workaholic lawyer in Washington, and recently widowed Wesley lives in Paris. The three come together for dinner, a dinner that is offered as being up to the standards of a chef’s competition, complete with explanation. You expect this to be the musings of the globetrotting rich as they pour out their troubles over vintage wine while complaining of life’s bitter turns of fate. You get this. However, the unearthly comes into play when it is thought that Wesley could be a vampire. That accusation is not something that happens every time people reunite after a time over a well thought out dinner for an evening of sparkling conversation. If you can get past that leap of logic you are in for a treat of character revelation, subtle daggers, romantic interludes full of unspoken sentiments, and verbal baiting.
CLIMATE OF THE HUNTER (2019) plays out like SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION (1993), or the stage play, with friends coming together, battling for a connection that they believe is unfulfilled. Breaking the atmosphere of this is Wesley’s vengeful son (Sheridan McMichael) and Alma’s daughter (Danielle Even Plodger). Toss in a slow-witted, pot-smoking handy-man, BJ Beaver (Jacob Snovel) that seems like the butler or the old gypsy woman that knows the secret (!); yet no one believes.
The film features lovely textured performances by all the actors, with each getting the right amount of screen time. The food, wine, furnishings and the cabin add to the atmosphere. It is almost as if Reece and co-writer John Selvidge wanted to update the drawing room whodunit with the vampire theme added. One is kept guessing with a bit of information, supplied by BJ Beaver, who indulges in the middle class predilection for smoking pot in a cabin. When joined by Alma on a regular basis one gets the impression it is more akin to the bohemian thing. I waited next for the reading of the tea leaves and the crystals put under armpits to stop sweating. The drug motif and the vampire tendencies that come out from it does a disservice to the theme of vampirism. It ends up pointing to a dream of the drug addled mind. It’s only the ‘slow, dim witted people’ that believe in the supernatural leading the handyman character to be similar to Renfield in the films, not Bram Stoker’s book.
CLIMATE OF THE HUNTER (2019) is a slickly produced character study of friendship that will appeal to the non-genre fan. It is a melodrama disguised as a horror-thriller. The supernatural aspect will allow the horror fan to enjoy the dialogue, especially the work of Wesley’s vengeful son having some of the best lines that at times sound like the spoiled brat trying to be good. The picture is also a social satire with the vampire theme that all “feed off’ of people and events in the lives of other people, often discarding them when no longer of use. Now that sentiment gives us a true monster that you can sometimes see in a mirror. Sometimes we see the beasts of this world by seeing a reflection
Review by Terry Sherwood