New Horror Releases: Hunter (2019) - Reviewed

After the murder of his mother and sister, ex-MMA fighter, Hunter (played by the film’s writer, Jason Kellerman), tries to stay alive on the streets of Chicago during a snowy winter, in the aptly titled Hunter. Destitute and emotionally broken to the point of paranoia, he discovers a secret fraternity of vampires who lure young women into their ritualistic feedings under the guises of dates, and starts to believe these are the ones responsible for his mother and sister’s deaths.  He begins to hunt down the vampires who ruined his family and threaten all single, young women.  Amidst it all, Hunter starts a romance with a social worker at the homeless shelter he’s staying at, and the two of them work through each other’s pasts.  

Jason Kellerman plays Hunter (who becomes a hunter, get it?) with the boldness of Brandon Lee in The Crow, but without the martial arts skills and without the hefty material to work with. Much of his dialogue are one-liners that miss the mark and make you cringe in embarrassment, not laugh, either ironically or humorously. 

This film is riddled with clichés.  Already mentioned, is the overuse of bad one-liners.  If they were good in ANY (like “so bad, it’s good”) way, it could be excused, but they all fall flat. Also tired, is the ex-fighter motif.  Again, the trope could have been excused if he was kicking ass all over the movie, and there were some good action scenes.  There isn’t. There is one fight scene towards the end of the movie, but it’s not exciting.  I would call it a day late and a dollar short. 

The worst cliché is the “women in refrigerators” aspect to this plot and it’s TWOFOLD.  Not only does the plot kick off for Hunter when his two female family members are murdered, but his new girlfriend psychologist becomes a target of the vampires and so, of course, he is pushed even further to try to save her.  The women’s lives in this film solely exist so that Hunter can be a hero; they are mere plot devices.

The vampires repeatedly ask Hunter to “look the other way” when it comes to their vampirism, so I get the feeling that this is some sort of heavy-handed symbolism for what the writer thinks of as toxic masculinity. I don’t know why he thinks he’s the savior of women, or why he thinks it’s his responsibility to save anyone, but his message is lost when the women in his film are portrayed as poorly as his mother, sister, and girlfriend are. 

One trope that this movie steers clear from is the cool, gothic, eternally youthful vampire trope, yet it also veers away from the monstrous looking vampire trope, a la The Lost Boys.  The vampires in Hunter are way more boring than that. They are a group of basic bros, headed up by an old white-haired man in a suit. These vampires have no mythology. Since one of them makes a coffee date for 7am, I guess they can roam about during the day. In this situation, any of the typical vampire tropes could have improved this story and made me more invested in the what was happening. 

Hunter is a movie about an ex-MMA fighter hunting vampires, yet I would not recommend this film to fans of action movies nor vampire movies.  

--Mara Powell