03rd Jan2020

‘American Hunt’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Brad Belemjian, David Ditmore, Lacy Hartselle, Taylor Novak, Cris Ruiz, Allison Shrum | Written and Directed by Aaron Mirtes


A few months back there was some controversy in the horror community when, succumbing to political pressure, Blumhouse cancelled the release of their production The Hunt – which was, essentially, yet another hunting humans film a lal The Most Dangerous Game. Yet whilst Blumhouse cancelled their release, High Octane Pictures went ahead and released American Hunt, a film that features the same hunting humans motif but has less political inclinations.

Of course that’s not to say this film doesn’t have anything to say on the state of society, in fact it says a lot about the divide be the haves and have-nots, the rich and the poor, it’s just that American Hunt can be swept under the carpet by mainstream horror outlets as another low budget direct to market title or, and this seems to be the case, be completely ignored. But this film should definitely NOT be ignored. In fact if I was inclined to make a list of my favourite films of 2019 I have no doubt American Hunt would be a strong contender!

The film tells the story of two brothers, Levi and Memphis, who lure people to their rural farm in the middle of nowhere and proceed to hunt them to their death. Hunting them for not only their own deranged pleasure but also to sell their body parts to rich paying clients eager to get their hands on organs and – at least according to Memphis – teeth. However Levi and Memphis’ latest quarry are not the types to go down without a fight…

OK, OK. The hunting humans theme is a long standing tradition in cinema, not only used by the horror genre but also appearing in action movies such as Hard Target and The Condemned; as well as sci-fi movies like the recent Jurassic Galaxy and The Running Man; which means filmmakers need to bring something special to the table when it comes to making their film. After all, without something that makes your film stand out, you’re just remaking The Most Dangerous Game badly right?

Well writer/director Aaron Mirtes does bring something different to the table with American Hunt. Namely the twisted, competitive, interaction between Levi and Memphis, and the seemingly unending pleasure the pair take in one-upping each other when it comes to the hunt. It’s that dark, oftentimes humorous, behaviour that keeps you watching – you want to see how far the duo can push each other, annoy each other and out-do each other rather than what pain and suffering they inflict on those they’re hunting. THAT is the edge Mirtes’ film has over others of its ilk.

[SIDEBAR: Speaking of Aaron Mirtes, who would’ve thought that the director of Clowntergeist would create such a wonderful and brilliant piece of genre cinema? I can honestly say I was shocked and surprised at just how good American Hunt is. Truly.]

But then that’s one of the best aspects of American Hunt. It’s cast. Made up of a small handful of performers and centred around Taylor Novak and Brad Belemjian, as Levi and Memphis respectively, the film presents the audience with a collection of characters that – for once – don’t seem stupid. Yes they’ve been lured to the farmhouse on the promise of a good time camping and hunting some wildlife, but once they realise what trouble they’re in there is no messing around – everyone acts with purpose and there’s no token victims here. It’s a well thought-out script coupled with actors that deliver tenfold which makes the entire of American Hunt so compelling to watch.

And the brilliance doesn’t stop there. American Hunt also features one of the best horror soundtracks of the year, comprised of some fantastically melancholy tracks that really capture the mood of the film at times and at others truly heighten the films on screen action. All in all, American Hunt is a solid win for writer/director Aaron Mirtes AND the audience. If you’ve let this one pass you by then I recommend you track it down ASAP.

American Hunt is out now from High Octane Pictures.


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