‘Hunted’ Review: A Muddled Thriller with Strong Performances
By Daniel Rester
Two male psychos. One female victim. A rural forest setting. The hunt is on.
That’s the ingredients of Vincent Paronnaud’s thriller Hunted. Well, some of them. The film also finds room for fairytale connections, animal symbolism, paintball games, an animated sequence, and a character preparing for the apocalypse. It also can’t decide if it wants to go for raw and realistic horror, pitch-black comedy, or huff-and-puff action scenes. Paronnaud tries a bit of everything.
Lucie Debay plays Eve, who decides to go out and get a drink in order to relieve some stress from work. She is bothered by a man hitting on her, but then rescued by another charming guy with no name played by Arieh Worthalter. The two make out in a car and then she is eventually trapped by the man and his dim accomplice, who is played by Ciaran O’Brien. They all eventually end up in the woods as Eve tries to survive against these two creeps.
I can almost recommend the film based on the intense performances by Debay and Worthalter. She is completely believable in survivor mode, wearing a red coat to look like “Red Riding Hood” of course. The actress has to do a lot of physical work here as she moves up hills, through rivers, etc. Despite Eve being thinly written, Debay keeps her worth rooting for.
Worthalter, meanwhile, chews the scenery in entertaining ways. He has an inconsistent accent as the handsome creep, but he is still compelling to watch. His character is ruthless and witty, a monster with a sharp sense of humor.
Hunted is expertly shot by cinematographer Joachim Phillippe, bringing Paronnaud’s multiple strange visions to life with vivid colors and imaginative movements. From a boar running through the night to an arrow going into the side of someone’s head, there are multiple shots that really work here on an individual level. All put together, though, it’s a bit of a mess of images and ideas built on a typical rape-and-revenge framework.
Paronnaud’s film works best when it sticks to being a violent thriller in the vein of Revenge (2018). The fairytale stuff, complete with a campfire storytelling sequence, feels half-baked in Paronnaud’s attempts to make the film more unique. The humor is also a mixed bag, most of it coming from Worthalter’s slimeball.
I didn’t hate anything about Hunted, but it left me disappointed by how messy it is. Debay and Worthalter are magnetic at times, and the visuals are consistently interesting. But the script by Paronnaud and Léa Pernollet has too many underwritten sections and Paronnaud’s directorial handling is inconsistent.
My Grade: 5.8/10 (letter grade equivalent: C+)
Running Time: 1h 27min