Poor Frank (Marshall Cook), all he wanted to do is get away from everyone and everything and begin an exciting new life freezing his ever-loving balls off in the cool, cool Michigan wilderness (in the dead of winter no less). Seems simple enough, except some first rate a-hole decides to dump a body practically in the backyard of his new home. Upon dragging the tarp wrapped corpse home, Frank discovers that there is still life left in the ol’ girl, Maggie (Keyna Reynolds) by name, after all…well barely, and decides to find out who the man is that left her for dead and why. The two finally meet at a bar, and Frank invites the man, whom he discovers is named Lance (Joe Raffa), to hunt on his land. What follows is one of the most tense series of events I’ve ever set my eerie eyeballs upon!
Nearly devoid of dialog, featuring a cool, de-saturated color pallet, and relying on the strength of expression and a simple plot; Hunting Lands is a superb thriller. Marshall Cook’s Frank carries the film with a determined stoicism that makes the viewer uneasy as we are never sure if he is going to outright kill the sleazy Lance for what he has done to Maggie or simply try to solve the mystery as to why the act was committed…and speaking of Frank, the way we learn of his character through various, seemingly throwaway lines from supporting characters rather than through his actions or dialog is handled superbly. Also of note is the landscapes themselves; with the cold forest with it’s rigid trees representing Frank and the run down city with it’s bars and hookers echoing the slimy Lance; it’s great visual metaphor and adds volumes to the film’s aesthetic. Finally, the paradigm flipping aspect of having the protagonist take on the form of stalker was as refreshing a change of pace as you will ever see, and is dutifully applauded by your’s cruelly.
As for negatives, this is one hell of a slow burn, so prepare for the pace to be deliberate (though the characters are so well acted, and the suspense wound so tight nothing ever feels belabored). Additionally, if you like you film’s filled wall to wall with chit chat you should go looking for your jolly’s elsewhere sunshine, as I estimate about 75% of this film is dialog free. I loved how that made the film play out, but your mileage may vary.
Simply stated, Hunting Lands is one of the best revenge pictures I have seen in a damn sight; filled with palpable tension, amazing performances, and simple yer effective storytelling, this is one you need to see without delay!
For more on Hunting Lands from Horror Fuel, head here!