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Fantasia 2020

[Fantasia] ‘Hunted’ review: Modern fairy tale revisits revenge genre

Once upon a time…

Hunted is Belgium/France co production making its world premiere at the Fantasia Film Festival. The movie is a modern take on the female revenge sub genre. But is it like putting lipstick on a pig? A woman (Lucie Debay) decides to go out to a club one night. She meets a man (Arieh Worthalter) who she connects with immediately. Just as it seems the two are going to have a wonderful time together, the man begins to show his true self.

The movie’s atmosphere starts to develop immediately. The opening sees a mother talking to her son as both sit in front of a campfire. Hunted has a fairy tale quality to it. Mist floats over the scenic forest that much of the film takes place in. The animals that inhabit the forest serve as more than just background. They add to the film’s atmosphere. The protagonist even wears a red hooded jacket in a nice touch.

Man against nature films tend to be about overcoming the elements. Hunted takes things in a much more interesting direction. The forest is an active assistant. It is very clever storytelling. The cinematography also give the film a dreamlike look. Hunted makes perfect use of its wooded setting. The movie is filled with beautiful shots that can be appreciated even during the most anxious moments.

[Fantasia] 'Hunted' review: Modern fairy tale revisits revenge genre

Worthalter is spectacular in his role. Initially, he exudes the type of charm that would win a woman’s attention. As Hunted progresses, more of the man’s personality is revealed. It is a frightening look at a person who delights in being so vicious. He also has a devilish charm that he uses against everyone he comes in contact with. His characters plays back into the fairy tale aspect of the movie. 

This will be an issue for some viewers. Quite simply, the villain is too evil. For the most part, Hunted is tense and frightening. But there are times when it crosses over into snuff film territory. This is part and parcel for the genre, however. When the tables are turned and things become more primal in the third act, it is clear that Hunted is more than another rape and revenge movie. It can be a disturbing at times, but it is a rewarding watch.

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