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31 Days of Halloween

[Nightstream] ‘AV: The Hunt’ review: Survival thriller with a powerful message

Turkish thriller with a message.

Welcome to another installment of 31 Days of Halloween! This is our chance to set the mood for the spookiest and scariest month of the year as we focus our attention on horror and Halloween fun. For the month of October we’ll be sharing various pieces of underappreciated scary books, comics, movies, and television to help keep you terrified and entertained all the way up to Halloween.

This year has seen a wave of survival thriller films centered around a female lead. These movies have been a refreshing change from similar ones in the past. They have refused to fetishize rape and physical abuse before a supposedly empowering ending. The women still are victims, but they are not helpless little girls either. This new wave of films concentrate more are telling a story than glamourizing violence.

Making its North American premiere at the Nightstream Film Festival, AV: The Hunt is the latest addition to the genre. The film comes from Turkey and is a slightly different take on the formula. Ayse wants to get a divorce. When the male members of the family learn of her betrayal, they decide it is time to take action. The story is an indictment against countries such as Turkey that value tradition and honor over people.

One of the main draws of this type of movie is watching the protagonist get her revenge. Here, the story is more about survival. This makes the stakes seem higher since it becomes more than a glorified slasher. The idea of honor also adds an interesting dynamic to the film. This style of film is often content to leave motivations muddled or simply a result of insanity. In AV, it is not Just a simple matter of the men being evil (though they are). It is more about them upholding tradition.

[Nightstream] 'AV: The Hunt' review: Survival thriller with a powerful message

This is most poignantly seen in Ayse’s interactions with her female friends and sister. None of them want to help her escape. It is not that they are scared or feel in some; they feel she is in the wrong. The aggressive choice of language also gives insight into the culture and thoughts of the males in the film. They constantly use terms that question masculinity. One of the worst insults in AV is to tell a man he does something like a girl.

The cinematography is beautiful. The majority of the action takes place in a beautiful forest. (An increasingly popular setting for the genre.) Overhead shots show off the vastness of AV. They also highlight the difficulty of Ayse’s journey to Istanbul. Director Emre Akay also utilizes an interesting technique. There are a few scenes in which the action will see characters on their sides. These moments are shot straight on as if nothing is out of the ordinary. There is also great use of lighting.

AV: The Hunt takes a different look at the survival thriller. The plot makes strong social commentary without ever making focus of the action. The movie is fast paced and will leave audiences with a lot to talk about. This is a great mix of strong messaging and an exciting movie.

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