Director: Michael Caissie
Screenplay: Michael Caissie
Starring: Thomas Jane, Katrina Bowden Sean Patrick Flanery, Amanda Wyss, Jay Mohr
Duration: 85 minutes
BBFC Certification: 15
A home invasion film that involves a serial killer, dubious sheriff, local hooligans, and werewolves, that is how best to sum up Hunter’s Moon, 2020. Written and directed by Michael Caissie (Hangman, 2017), Hunter’s Moon is a mixture of horror genres which confuses the audience’s senses somewhat. As a spectator, you are never really sure about the director’s intention, which is a mosaic of typical camera shots from various genres of horror, cobbled together in an attempt to demonstrate a knowledge of techniques – effectively a tick list. As a result, the film lacks cohesiveness, and appears confusing despite its straightforward storyline.
In the opening 5 minutes, a young woman is drugged and strangled. Whilst attempting to burry the body in the adjacent orchard, her killer meets an untimely death at the hands of an unknown beast – presumed to be a werewolf. Move forward a few months and a city family are on their way to move into the house of the killer.
Despite only moving in that day, the mum (Amanda Wyss) and dad (Jay Mohr) leave the three teenage daughters alone. Naturally, this leads to the eldest daughter Juliette (Katrina Bowden) persuading her seemingly reluctant sisters Lisa (India Ennenga) and Wendy (Emmalee Parker) to drink and party. Fortunately, or unfortunately (depending on how you look at it) some local boys casing the joint with intentions of burglary, are spotted by Juliette, and invited to join in.
Soon the local sheriff (Thomas Jane) is at the door to break up the party and move the boys along. After hearing a scream from the orchard, the sheriff’s true colours are exposed along with his relationship to the boys. The action then moves quicker as the film alternates between the house invasion and the mysterious werewolf hunting on the grounds. Finally, we see a quick glimpse of the werewolf before the final twist is revealed.
This could have been a good movie. I say could, because sadly it lacked in many ways. The storyline, although a little bonkers was pretty straightforward – teenage girls left home alone in their new house that used to belong to a serial killer, decide to have a party, local boys are not too nice, sheriff turns up to break up the party and then the werewolves turn up and attempt to kill everyone. A totally over the top plot that could have at least given this film some comical value. However, it is played straight as if a serious horror, intending to give jump scares and tap into the audience’s sense of fear, disappointingly, not achieving either.
On the other hand, just some minor tweaks to the storyline could have saved this movie. The underlying subplot (and subsequent twist), in my opinion is a fantastic idea and could lend itself well to a kind of’ Dexter meets werewolves’ mix. Yet it needed more time for character and narrative development and perhaps more than a fleeting glimpse at a werewolf. At less than an hour and a half, this was never going to fully work.
This brings me to the best and worst thing about this movie – the twist. Such a great idea that could have been executed brilliantly with subtle hints throughout the lead up, to the final 5-minute reveal at the end. Regrettably, none of the hints were subtle, more like a sledgehammer smashing through your window at a hundred miles and hour. By the end of the first 10 minutes I knew exactly how the rest of the film was going to play out.
With a seasoned acting cast, you would expect to at least give some praise to the actors. The acting was not awful, but there are not any really good moments worth mentioning either. The casting of Katrina Bowden as the eldest teenage sister, was a big mistake. At almost 30 when the filming took place, Bowden was always going to be at a disadvantage playing a teenager, even if she was meant to be the eldest of the sisters. The other two actresses just about pulled it off. Thomas Jane gave a reasonably good performance as the Sheriff and Will Carson as Billy, was a nice bit of eye candy for the ladies.
Overall, I would describe this as a good film waiting to happen. Expectations were never fully achieved, and while it is not the worse film I have ever seen, it never fully hits the mark. In my opinion, a bit of development with the characters and more insight into the subplot, perhaps stretched out as a series rather than a film and this could be a good little idea. As it stands, worth a watch once but be prepared to walk away with a bit of a ‘meh’ reaction.
Hunter’s Moon is released on DVD by Dazzler Media.