Happy Hunting (2017)

Director: Louie Gibson and Joe Dietsch.
Starring. Martin Dingle Wall, Ken Lally, Kenny Wormald, Connor Williams, Gary Strum,CJ Baker. USA. 1h 31m.

Gibson and Dietsch have produced a gory little survival horror filled with little surprises and a strange story of redemption, reform and recovery.

An alcoholic drifter , Warren (Dingle Wall) stumbles into the wrong town. After years of walking the on the wrong side of the track he learns that an old flame has died and left a daughter he never knew he had, so he makes a pilgrimage to go down to mexico and be the father he never had, but he needs funds and after a crooked deal goes wrong he finds himself in trouble with a notorious mexican gang, on the run with the DT’s.t At a  AA meeting he meets are really friendly guy who offers to take him home and his family welcomes him, sadly by the morning in the stark daylight he discovers he’s become a target for a group of deranged rednecks during their annual sporting/hunting event, but this alchy ain’t going down easy.

It cleverly draws a lot of human prey story ideas together but with a barbarity and wicked ending that adds to this sometimes disturbing genre. Ever since The Most Dangerous Game was adapted in 1932,  for the big screen there has been a morbid curiosity in watching our fellow man being chased down by our fellow man, with the science fiction twang of Turkey Shoot (1982) or the modern dark fairytale aesthetic of Final Girl (2015), we like to see a hunt, a thrilling chase.Taking shape in the flatlands of California, it poses a challenge to both director and prey.

The isolated group of rednecks who have their annual hunt the city folk festival have their own point system and full radio coverage of the “event” with champions and showboaters trying to get as many kills as possible. There is a sense of community and a happy spirit within the group a touch of dark comedy comes with the host of the show as he details the kills and history of the event mostly for the audiences benefit.

There are some long uneventful scenes which give us a story but they are, always finished with some nasty killing savage scenes, so it panders to many different members of the horror community, the bloodthirsty and the thinking variety.

The hero, is really scraping the bottom of the barrel, but despite being beyond down and out he symbolises the average man on the street, no one would be prepared for this purgatory, especially when you’ve reached rock bottom, running into a town of rednecks with high powered rifles with all gagging to get your head as a trophy i’m sure you’d probably rather wish no one had voted from trump, yep this movie settles in the memory not for it’s graphic nature and zany story there’s a constant reminder of border, walls and mexico and constant reminders that there are “bad guys on both sides”.

It could have upped the tempo and delivered a few more kicks, but on the whole it’s incredibly entertaining frightening experience. The chase is real the decisions are regretfully dumb and the killers are darkly comic. Warren might have found the best way to stay off the juice and he gets the final laugh but the ending is not all that pretty.

Rating 7/10

ROutback (1971), Wrong Turn (2003), Pig Hunt (2008), Turkey Shoot (1982),
L – The Greatest Prey, The Hunt
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