hunted | vincent paronnaud | lea pernollet | lucie debay | arieh worthlater | ciaran o'brien | fairy tale | based on | action | thriller | belgium | france | ireland | ryan brodie | simone milsdochter | mikael sladden | bruce ellison | gilles vandeweerd | lelia putcuips
Director: Vincent Paronnaud
Writer: Vincent Paronnaud and Léa Pernollet
Starring: Lucie Debay, Arieh Worthalter and Ciaran O’Brien
This was a movie that I got turned on to when Marknado shared a list of horror movies getting released in January. This can be a tough month to find new horror, especially with theaters not being fully opened and being early into the year. I did confirm with him along with my buddy Tim, who both had already seen this, as to if this was horror or not. Both confirmed it was, so I decided to make this as a Featured Review for Journey with a Cinephile: A Horror Movie Podcast. The synopsis here is once upon a time, woman meets man. Woman dances with man. Man kisses woman. Man grips woman. Woman escapes man. Man chases woman – nothing new. Or is there?
Now I’ll be honest, I don’t love that synopsis. I get what they’re doing as it is giving that this is a story we’ve seen before, but framing it as a fairy tale. That really takes us to where we start. There is a woman who is credited as the huntress, Simone Milsdochter, telling a story to her son of Jeremy (Vladimir Ryelandt). It is the story of the Wolf Girl and that is what she is claiming they’re hearing on the wind. They are out camping as she tells this story of a priest by the name of Nicodemus who raised an army and met his demise in this woods to a woman he branded a witch. He did so as the woods came to her aid and the wolves killed him along with his followers.
We then meet our lead of Ève (Lucie Debay). For work she is overseeing a construction project. There seems to be issues and her boss isn’t happy with her, he is Kevin Van Doorslaer. She is stressed from this and to make matters worse, her boyfriend of Alex (Alexis Vandendaelen) is not giving her much space. That night to unwind, she goes a bar for a drink. There she is hassled by a guy trying to buy her a drink and take her home. She is saved in this situation by another guy, Arieh Worthlater. The two of them hit it off, drinking and dancing. They end up outside for a cigarette where they kiss. The two of them go to his car, but this is where things take a turn. His friend, Ciaran O’Brien, gets in the front seat and drives away from the bar.
As fear sets in, Ève demands to be let out. She is and goes to a nearby gas station for help. She is hoping that the guy and his accomplice will leave her be, but this is just the start of the nightmare. The gas station attendant is killed and she is kidnapped. Through a conversation in the car, we see that our main villain is a bit unstable. He isn’t paying attention and they end up getting in a car accident in the woods. Ève is able to escape, but the two men are pursuing her. It becomes a game of cat and mouse as Ève tries to survive her attackers and the elements to find safety. She will need to find the strength to go from the hunted to the hunter if she wants to survive to tell her tale.
That will be where I end my recap of the movie. What I should point out about the synopsis on the Internet Movie Database is different from what I saw on Shudder, which was that this is a take on the tale of ‘Little Red Hiding Hood’. That makes a lot of sense with the story that we get in the beginning of this. It is really setting the stage for how things will play out here. There are also some nods in the movie to this fairy tale. Ève is where a red hoodie. She gets lost in the woods. The guy that she ends up being interested in at the bar is a ‘wolf in sheep’s clothes’, things to that effect.
Now I’ve already lain out, and even the synopsis did, this isn’t a story we haven’t seen before. It is a fairly tired if I’m going to be honest. Heck, a movie from last year that I dug with a similar premise is Alone. Both that movie and this one end up with our lead being lost in the woods and trying to find herself in more than one way. This movie though, Ève makes some bad decisions. I don’t really have an issue with her not being sure if she still wants to be with her boyfriend of Alex or not. That isn’t my business. They aren’t married. What I do have an issue with though is the bad decision of getting into the guy’s car. If she wants to sleep with him great, as that again isn’t my business. There has been drinking, so I get that her guard is down, but it just seems that it isn’t smart. I hate that we have to protect ourselves and she shouldn’t have to worry.
I don’t want to just harp on her though. What I do like is the growth of her character. It is interesting to see Ève getting yelled at by her boss in the beginning. That is showing us she isn’t as confident as she needs to be. Her ordeal in the woods forces her to have that growth. There is a great scene that is on the poster of her just breaking and screaming. This is giving away her position, but what I think works there is that we see she’s at the end of her line. She is becoming the wolf girl from the story in the beginning.
If you know me, I tend to focus on the villains in movies and I like what we’re getting here. He is never given a name. He is credited as The Guy on IMDb. I actually really like this idea. His friend goes by The Accomplice as well. As a way to annoy him, our villain calls the other Andy, but this seems to be something he hates. I actually really like not giving them names as that can humanize them when we see them as monsters. The guy is definitely charismatic, which allows him to control his weaker minded associate. It also happens to someone else later in the movie and he can sway people with things he says. He has issues though too. There seems to be a lack of real confidence and uses violence to exert his dominance over others. He also has a fetish to film the bad things he does so he can relive them. These are all interesting things that we get to see throughout the movie without over explanation.
Not everything works for me though. I think that up until late in the second act, I’m on board with what they’re doing. It gets ridiculous from there in my opinion though. I like that they encounter the huntress along with her son of Jeremy (Ryan Brodie), who is now older. The problem I have is that they run through a paint ball game and then it just goes downhill for me. I do like what they do at the end of the movie though. We get to see Ève finally descend into full rage and there is something with a dog that comes full circle as well.
Where I will go next is the acting. I have to give a lot of credit to Debay. I think she does an excellent job with the character growth. We see that she isn’t in control of her life in the beginning and this ordeal makes her into the strong woman that she has to be in the end to survive. Worthlater is great as this villain as well. He is a manipulator, but I like the subtle things where we see that some of this is an act. O’Brien is great as his counterpart who is weak minded and easily controlled. I think the rest of the cast also rounds this out for what was needed and helping to develop these character into who they need to be. This is really a two person movie though with Debay and Worthalter.
Next would be the effects of the movie. It isn’t really one where we get a lot of them, but they all seem to be done practical for the most part. The blood we get looks real. The accomplice gets wounded in the car accident and I love seeing that. It looked quite good. We also see the effects of things happening to people that worked for me. There is a kind of animation for the telling of the Wolf Girl story that was a good choice. I also think there is some really good cinematography throughout as well.
That would take me to the last thing, which would be the soundtrack. I think what they do here works. None of the music necessarily stands out to me, but there is this great scene where Jeremy is listening to headphones. He’s shocked by something he sees and we can hear dramatic music. When they’re taken off, the music stops and I thought that was done brilliantly. I would say that the soundtrack works for what was needed as well.
In conclusion, I thought that this was an interesting take on the ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ story. It isn’t traditional in that sense, but it is an empowering take on feminism as we see Ève trying to survive this ordeal. The growth of the character and performance of Debay works. The rest of the acting was good as well. I thought the effects, cinematography and the soundtrack were all as well. It does lose me later in the movie as it almost goes whimsical which is a shame as I thought it was pretty strong until that point. Overall though, I still found this to be an above average movie overall. Some changes and I think this could have been good, but it just had those missteps for me.
My Rating: 7 out of 10