Fairy tales and fables all teach lessons and the targeted audience is usually children, particular little girls to warn them of the dangers of non compliance. Most characters in fables find themselves in danger after acts of disobedience, rebellion, or simply straying from a prescribed path. These tales aim to warn children not to behave a certain way or tragedy will befall them, placing the blame on the victim’s shoulders. Vincent Paronnaud’s film Hunted subverts the moral of the fairy tale and puts the blame where it is deserved, on the predator. Artistic choices and cinematic directing, make Hunted a visually arresting story that is enchanting as the fairy tales it draws from.
Eve (Lucie Debay) is in town for business. After a rough day she ventures out to a neighborhood bar to burn off some steam. She meets a man played by Arieh Worthalter and a connection develops. The man is charming and they have a fun night together dancing and drinking. The night takes a turn when what starts off as a romantic encounter reveals itself to be much more sinister than expected. Eve quickly learns that she is in danger.
The film’s tone is set from the beginning. The film opens with a mother and son camping in the woods as she tells him “The Legend of the Wolf Girl.” The camera work shows the magnitude of the forest around them and the sounds effects create a haunting atmosphere that follows the film from forest to city. The story of the wolf girl is seen through animated dark shadows against a dusty orange background. This method of storytelling casts a fantastical tenor throughout the story.
The fantastical shapes the film as Eve is sometimes aided by nature in her efforts to escape a maniacal stranger. Lucie Debay gives an incredibly raw and powerful performance as a woman pushed to the edge of her humanity as she is pursued like an animal. Nature itself plays a role in this film as both characters are affected by nature in different ways. The elements of the woods call back to the fable told at the start of the film, binding Eve’s character to nature. Arieh Worthallter is absolutely alarming in his role as the villain. His deranged behavior and malice make him an outsider to the woods and Worthalter’s portrayal of this amps drives the psychosis of the character.
The film’s story accompanied with the directing mingles both beauty and terror in the expansive shots of the tree lines and parting clouds. The tranquility of nature is juxtaposed with some brutal violence and interesting gore, emphasizing the uglier aspects of the natural world. In addition to the scenery and camera angles, there is an urgency in the pacing that adds to the thriller aspect of the film moving the story along and putting the viewer in the chase.
Hunted is a story about survival and vengeance and it highlights the primal nature in humans for both. Beautifully shot and extraordinary acting drive the story and blend the magic of fantasy with the grim horror of reality.
Hunted premieres on Shudder on January 14
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