Review: Happy Hunting

DVD: Happy Hunting (2017)

Warren Novak (Martin Dingle Wall) is an ex-military alcoholic whose life is on a downward spiral. His addiction has got to the point that he can not function without regular intakes of alcohol, which even includes knocking back half a bottle of mouthwash when there is nothing else around. If he doesn’t get alcohol into his system he gets the shakes, has blurred vision and begins to hallucinate.

Drifting into an isolated ramshackle community on the edge of the Mexican border, Novak is captured and forced into a deadly annual event, where he and others down on their luck are used as human prey as the locals hunt them down.

The ultimate question is of course; can he survive?

Using humans as prey has been used as a plot device in many movies and one which I admit to being particularly fond of. Deadly Prey, The Most Dangerous Game, Turkey Shoot and Hard Target spring immediately to mind. Hell, the group of filmmakers I was in during the early 90’s even used hunting humans as its narrative in one project. It was, unsurprisingly, called ‘Hunting Humans’ and I got to burn someones face off with a blowtorch…that’s how WE used to spend our weekends!

As with most movies, a lot rides on if you have any empathy with the main character. Despite Novak being about as low in his life as he could be, you see glimpses of his estranged family and all he wants to do is contact them one last time, if only for a small slice of redemption. His alcohol addiction also adds an interesting twist, as his motor skills become severely hindered if he doesn’t regularly top up his intake. This of course comes into play as he’s being hunted and his sensory awareness begins to fluctuate.

The acting is good throughout the entire cast and writers/directors Joe Dietsch and Louie Gibson craft a suitably tense atmosphere as the narrative unfolds. The stark desolate terrain is almost as intimidating as the local hunters with their guns, knives and baseball bats.

There are some good kills for those who like to see some claret splatter across the screen, but unfortunately it is CGI blood which is not too convincing at all. In fact, quite a few of the bloody set pieces are let down by cheap CGI. In an age where the viewer is now spoiled by digital effects from the likes of WETA and ILM, it is a pity that the lower budget movies suffer in comparison when it comes to using convincing CGI. Happy Hunting would have greatly benefitted from some old skool practical effects work.

I thoroughly enjoyed my 90 minutes with Happy Hunting and will definitely be adding it to my rotation of ‘hunting humans’ movies along with the aforementioned titles above. Another great release by Umbrella Entertainment.

Review by Dave (host of 60 Minutes With) from a disc kindly supplied by Umbrella Entertainment.