There’s a decent movie in here somewhere, I swear – we’ve got wilderness, crazy locals, an unhinged leading actor and the stalking on an elusive beast. In surer hands this could be an epic man-vs-nature plight, or even a grand allegory about the diminishing wilderness.
Instead, we get a pretty, if pretty plodding, ride into the Tasmanian forest in search of a poorly executed CGI thingamajig.
To its credit, there’s some nice scene chewing between Willem Dafoe and Sam Neil. The rest of the cast is effective at coming across as either sullen, insane, or just idiotic. The local yokels are about as dimensional and nuanced as those in DILIVERANCE, making an potential tourism benefit of the film’s locale even less inviting. Everyone is pretty disagreeable, and by the time the predictable, sorrowful-yet-hopeful ending is trotted out, it’s all a bit much.
We do get hunter-vs-hunted moments that make films of this nature viscerally pleasing, and the bleak landscapes of Tasmania are suitably awe inspiring, if slightly reminiscent of Middle Earth (located on that Island nation just to the East, after all). One can’t fault the film for any allusions to the scope of the LOTR films, but I can challenge the film’s blatant treading on tired tropes and cliche.
The HUNTER isn’t terrible, but it’s mediocre and forgettable, and in some ways that might make it even less enjoyable. A spoiled opportunity, both in terms of the story and the location, this is in the end a failed excursion into the Tasmanian wilderness.