[Nightstream Capsule Review] 'Hunted' Tracks Down a Visually Arresting Experience But Wanders Too Far Off the Path
It’s amazing how many fairy tales are concerned with women’s bodies in peril...
...Almost all the most famous ones center around placing a woman or a girl in a situation from which she must be saved. Only through modernized adaptations do we ordinarily get to see them save themselves. Writer/director Vincent Paronnaud’s Hunted, written with Léa Pernollet, tries its hand at turning one of the most predatory tales—“Red Riding Hood”—into a rape-revenge horror in its US premiere at Nightstream Film Festival, and what results is visually affecting but ultimately a bit of a mixed bag.
The basic premise of rape-revenge stories is fairly self-explanatory. A victim has an encounter from which they must escape and an aggressor they must fight off. The most fulfilling stories of this kind, for me, are those that end with the aggressor getting their comeuppance at the hands of the survivor we have grown to know and feel for. It’s the ultimate power fantasy, for better or worse. Hunted sets the proper wheels in motion but sets them spinning just left of the right direction.
There’s plenty about Hunted to love, and plenty to take with a grain of salt. It is, in many ways, an arresting film. Joachim Phillippe’s cinematography lures you into the woods beautifully and Lucie Debay’s performance as Eve is a force. The film’s message is a relatively sound one—we cannot erase or bury trauma with words—but its execution, while effective, is a bit half-baked. I enjoyed the film immensely, but after the initial thrill wore off, I sensed the bit of injustice that was still being done to Eve. Whether she was meant to be an everywoman or not, we are made of more than the traumas we fight against.
By Katelyn Nelson
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