AV: The Hunt Movie Review

Written by Joel Harley

Released by Darlingo Pictures


Directed by Emray Akay
Written by Emray Akay and Deniz Cuylan
2020, 76 minutes
FrightFest English premiere on 31st August 2020

Billur Melis Koç as Ayse
Adam Bay as Ahmet
Emre Yevin as Muavin
Ahmet Rifat Sungar as Sedat


Caught in the act by her relatives, adulterous Ayse (Billur Melis Koç) is thrown into a fight for survival when they decide to kill her for the family’s honour. Taking to the streets and countryside of Istanbul, Ayse is chased down by cops and family members alike, with no-one to turn to and nowhere to go for help or respite. Even the less murderous of her family and friends offer little to no sympathy; in the face of literal murder, Ayse is told to go fuck herself, that she brought this down on her own head.

av the hunt 01 av the hunt 02

This is the second film called The Hunt to emerge in 2020, but that’s where the similarities end. Director Emray Akay’s fast-paced, brutal thriller takes itself entirely seriously, without any of that ‘both sides’ nonsense. It’s Revenge by way of Ready or Not. Its subject matter is a bleak one too, tackling the grim issue of honour killing. In that respect, its title is slightly misleading. This is no sport; nobody is playing around here – certainly not Akay or co-writer Deniz Cuylan. AV: The Hunt is fiercely feminist and deeply sympathetic to its heroine’s plight.

av the hunt 03 av the hunt 04

None of which gets in the way of the story being told. This is an unforgiving chase thriller in which the odds are relentlessly stacked against Ayse (welcome to the patriarchy, guys) and in which her enemies – who are also her blood relatives – will give no quarter in putting her down for her perceived sins. Thankfully, Ayse is plenty capable of holding her own. So too is its star, who (with shades of a Kill Bill era Uma Thurman) battles through wave after wave of murderous men with plausible grit and determination. As honour killing is grounded in reality, so are the action and performances.

av the hunt 05 av the hunt 06

Still, the film isn’t afraid to get trippy or atmospheric either, featuring unsettling dream sequences and a woodland arena straight out of a Wrong Turn movie. The first half is shot like an Ozploitation road movie, the second part a gloomy, foggy survival horror picture. This does not make for fun viewing, and nor is it as cathartic as most revenge/survival movies. What it is, however, is a taut, exciting action thriller which, like its heroine and her enemies, never lets up. The barest bones of the story may be familiar and even predictable to fans of exploitation cinema, but the writing and cinematography help it to stand head and shoulders above the rest.

Not only does the film have plenty to say, but it’s excellently shot and powerfully acted, making this one of the most essential pieces of feminist cinema since Revenge. AV: The Hunt is not only the best film this year to have ‘The Hunt’ in the title, but is also one of the best films this year, period.


Movie: 4.5 Star Rating Cover

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Joel Harley
Staff Reviewer
Haribo fiend, Nicolas Cage scholar and frequently functioning alcoholic. These are just some of the words which can be used to describe Joel Harley. The rest, he uses to write film criticism for Horror DNA and a variety of websites and magazines. Sometimes he manages to do so without swearing.
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