Hunted (2020)

Director: Vincent Paronnaud
Writer: Vincent Paronnaud, Léa Pernollet, David H. Pickering
Cast: Lucie Debay, Arieh Worthalter, Ciaran O’Brien
Part of: SLASH Filmfestival
Seen on: 24.9.2020

Eve (Lucie Debay) had a shitty day at work in a city she doesnt really know. So she decides to get a drink at the local bar. After a guy hits on her and doesn’t take no for an answer, another guy (Arieh Worthalter) swoops in and gets rid of him. He is charming and self-deprecating and they are having such a good time, that Eve decides to get in a car with him and his brother (Ciaran O’Brien). It is there that things quickly turn bad and she realizes that he may not be a good guy after all. Frantic to get away from him, she soon finds herself in mortal danger. But Eve is a fighter.

Hunted starts really strong, but the longer it goes on, the more it falls apart, leaving me with a decidedly mediocre impression overall.

The film poster showing Eve's (Lucie Debay) face in super close-up as she lies under a floor or in a box that's all red.

Hunted is yet another film at this year’s SLASH that has some feminist overtones which I would generally applaud completely. Make more films feminist, I’m here for it. Except all these films are made by men (not making the effort of hiring more women behind the camera as well) and the feminism remains surface-level to me.

That being said, in the beginning, the film captures many things very well: the ubiquity of “bad flirting” aka men not being able to respect boundaries women set. How quickly even a good flirt can turn bad and then it’s usually the women who are in danger of the men (in a cis-hetero setting at least). How quickly you can become helpless in such a situation (which is why women take all kinds of precautions men rarely think about).

Eve (Lucie Debay) with wild hair, her face covered in blue color, holding up a branch as a weapon.

Worthalter’s bad guy is also really good in the beginning – both the way he manages to be charming and how quickly it is shown to be nothing but a facade. I also liked how the film shows that he absolutely relies on a male audience who goes along with him despite their own discomfort and enables him in the process. (The homosexual turn things take is something I am still chewing over. It didn’t quite fit for me.)

But after this strong start, after they hit the forest, the film, and Worthalter’s character and performance, increasingly fall apart. Things start to drag. I felt that there was a lot of potential here that was not realized at all – from the Red Riding Hood references the film drops to its feminist intent. The film just could have been more than it was.

Eve (Lucie Debay) giving the finger.

Summarizing: Has its moments, but shrug.

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