01st Sep2020

Frightfest 2020: ‘AV The Hunt’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Billur Melis Koç, Ahmet Rifat Sungar, Baki Kaymaz, Yagizcan Konyah | Written by Emre Akay, Deniz Cuylan | Directed by Emre Akay

On paper AV The Hunt sounds like yet another take on the theme of hunting humans, however co-writer/director Emre Akay’s film has a rather interesting concept up its sleeve, which elevates the typical story into something more interesting – a diatribe on the patriarchy and the vile idea of “honour killings”.

AV The Hunt opens with a young couple making love when suddenly a cop barges in while the woman, Ayse, is in the shower. The police officer and Ayse’s lover struggle and he ends up dead at the hands of the cop. You see the dead man is Ayse lover, NOT her husband. Feeling that her family and that of her husband have been disgraced by Ayse’s actions, all the men in her strict family chase her around the city and the countryside to kill her in order to avenge their honour. Ayse’s only key for endurance is to become as ruthless as those pursuing her…

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, horror is often at its best when it not only tells a good story but also turns the lens on the audience, pointing out issues in society, asking audiences to question their beliefs, all the while still delivering on the tropes of the genre; and AV The Hunt does that in spades. It also delivers on its promise of an intense thrill-ride through the mountains of Turkey – a landscape that is as much a danger to Ayse as the men chasing her!

Whilst Western films often have to build sympathy for their heroines, taking time to create empathy with the audience, AV The Hunt has that from the get-go, thanks to the superb performance of lead actress Billur Melis Koç and from the sheer lack of empathy from anyone in the film towards her character Ayse. Everyone acts friendly, they may act nice, but they all say the same thing – its different for girls; this is a male-dominated society; you should just kowtow to your husband and the men in your family; go home and face the consequences; you’re in the wrong for running away. Hell even a cop that pulls Ayse over says its down to the foibles of youth that she’s in this situation and if she was older she’d know better!

To put it bluntly… screw that! That egotistical “we’re men, we know better” attitude only makes you want Ayse to succeed, to getaway from the men following her and her life in Turkey. Speaking of the men, Emre Akay and Deniz Cuylan really know how to write evil bastards! The guys hunting Ayse are literally doing just that, hunting her. They relish in the fact they’re “allowed” to hunt a fellow human down, to have power over someone else’s life – even dragging a young boy into the hunt, someone who clearly is only doing it under the pressure of so-called family honour.

Thankfully, despite living in a patriarchal society, Ayse doesn’t take lightly to her life being controlled by men, she fights back. Boy does she fight back. However never does she, like the men (led by her bitter husband, who we’re shown clearly to be a total psychopath) hunting her, relish in what she’s doing – she’s literally fighting for her life, doing things no human being should ever have to do, just to stay alive. But then when you think about how these things really happen across the world, women killed for disgracing their family in the horrible chauvinistic “tradition” of honour, you feel as sick as Ayse does when she kills. You also root for her immensely, no matter how far she has to push herself, how far she has to go, becoming as vicious and violent as those that would harm her; you still want her to triumph. Even though you know, deep down, thanks to the male-dominated society she lives in, she probably never will…

**** 4/5

AV The Hunt screened as part of this years Frightfest Digital Edition on Monday August 31st.


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