Director: Jack Heller
Starring: Kevin Durand, Lucas Haas & Steve Agee
Synopsis: An evil is unleashed in a small town when a logging company sets up shop in the neighbouring woods
Rating: 15 Run time: 90 minutes Release date: 12 October (UK)
Monster Hunter is one of the better examples of a low budget horror film that never received a major release. After being featured on Hollywood’s blacklist of the best unproduced screenplays in 2009, the film has gone through three name changes until it found its home on VoD and home release. Despite a limited release and a lack of any real marketing, Monster Hunter is a well made B-movie horror that serves its scares through slow build up and moody looking small town America.
Led by Kevin Durand’s surly Sheriff, a small American town must overcome the abnormal threat that now faces them. This is not easily done however, and with different theories going around of what is really happening it is up to the recently bereaved Sherriff to attempt to keep a handle on things before they spiral out of control. Of course, that doesn’t take long, and sooner rather than later more mysterious attacks are occurring which lead the townsfolk into various misguided decisions
Despite being only 90 minutes long, Monster Hunter is in no rush to get anywhere, and after the films gruesome start, it slows the pace down in an effort to acclimatise the audience with the characters and their various back stories. It’s a decision that has it pluses and minuses and, depending on your point of view, will either leave you highly frustrated or glad of the restraint shown by the director.
Jack Heller is slowly making a name for himself in the horror genre, and despite having only two films to his name; the previous one being Enter Nowhere, it is clear that he is a director worth keeping an eye on. Heller’s direction may not be flashy, but he does do the simple things well and sometimes that can be enough to make a film entertaining. Through some moody shots and a subdued tone, Heller has something here that is halfway between Signs and The Mist.
Heller is of course helped by the blacklisted screenplay, but also by a solid cast of actors who make this whole thing seem rather believable. The actors appear sold on the films premise, even if they and the audience have been here a hundred times before. But their willingness toward their roles shows, and makes it easier for the audience to get on board.
Where Monster Hunter ends up though, is where so many films like this do so too. There’s a siege mentality to the finale, where the townspeople are gathered in a church which is, apparently, the strongest building they have. It’s unfortunate that this is what the film comes to, as we see all the usual genre clichés kick into overdrive and the films previous hard work is undone slightly with an ending that lacks tension and any true meaning.
There were no extras provided with this review copy.
In summary: Monster Hunter is a good enough B-movie horror for those willing to give it a go, but its ending and slow pace may irritate many.