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American Hunt Movie Review

Written by Joanna K. Neilson

Released by High Octane Pictures

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Written and directed by Aaron Mirtes
2019, 80 minutes, Not Rated
Released on 10th December 2019

Starring:
Lacy Hartselle as Kimberly
Taylor Novak as Levi
Allison Shrum as Brooke
David Ditmore as Pastor Greene
Brad Belemjian as Memphis
Cris Ruiz as Owen

Review:

American Hunt turned out a lot better than expected – and I don’t want to damn with faint praise here. This is damn good fun. It kicks off with an old story – there are two sadistic hunters, who are brothers, and their most dangerous game is man! This twist is quickly revealed in the opening scene. Doing this efficiently sets up what we should expect, and from there on it runs with its idea without wasting any more time. It actually manages the rare feat of becoming more interesting as the brothers’ hunt for their hapless visitors continues.

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It’s a decent, horrible scenario that they milk perfectly for tension and brutality. While there’s gore, the parts I enjoyed most were the antagonism between the two brothers, which is an issue even before the main hunt starts. The brothers squabble over power, mercy and their own ideals of what ‘the hunt’ is about really affects their victims' chances of survival and their methods differ in important ways.

American Hunt channels a Hostel-like vibe, where it appears to be ‘torture porn’ – but the true attraction is the desperate victims matching their wits and survival skills against two very different types of sadistic hunters. The brothers at least have a vaguely realistic reason for doing what they do – beyond being completely evil bastards, anyway.

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The hunt uses each character well and enjoys spinning our expectations around as it continues. Though at one point you may scream at a character to finish the job and save everyone the inevitable trauma, but that part is totally in character, too. While the twisting of viewer expectations and personalities gets a little unbelievable at times, the extreme situation kind of warrants it. It doesn’t quite pan out predictably, which is a relief.

There’s also a creepy evangelical guy living next door, whose story goes in an unexpected direction – I’ve definitely seen The Texas Chain Saw Massacre too often, so I was pleasantly surprised, but his role is very nicely done all the same.

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With a tiny cast, who are good enough to make this work beautifully, American Hunt manages to be fun, gut-wrenching and occasionally hilarious. A fantastic film for fans of the ‘deadliest game’ and extreme survival stories! It gets extra points for a killer soundtrack and unusual handwritten credits that add a lot to the outdoorsy atmosphere. The details matter and add to the film’s extremely dark world view.

Oh, and absolutely make sure you keep watching after those pretty credits roll.

Grades:

Movie: 4 Star Rating Cover
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About The Author
Joanna K. Neilson
Staff Reviewer
Favourite film ever watched is Alien (1979), but usually prefers to ingest her horror with a dollop of comedy relief…though the dusty charm of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1971) and the black and white lure of Psycho (1960) continues to draw her in. Found Baskin weirdly hilarious. Finds Finding Nemo godawful. Adores H.P. Lovecraft and has sort-of pilgrimed to his grave in Providence - very tidy. Very long walk. Half-expected cats and cultists to be set up all around it but sadly, just signs saying ‘no photos’ in the cemetery.
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