CLIMATE OF THE HUNTER (2019)
Directed by Mickey Reece
On digital now
Sisters Alma and Elizabeth are spending time together at their log cabin in the woods, awaiting the arrival of their friend Wesley who they’ve not seen in over 20 years. All now middle-aged, they once used to hang out together in their youth but it seems that time apart has changed all three, Wesley possibly more than others…
Award-winning horror drama CLIMATE OF THE HUNTER is a movie like no other… at least from this century. The conversation-heavy film is a mesmerising, engrossing spectacle of cinematography but is one that might be lost on some people. For others, however, it’s everything they could have dreamed of and more (yes, I’m talking from personal experience here).
With its opening credits appearing in retro, 70’s style over the film’s choice of 4:3 aspect ratio, I knew within seconds that CLIMATE OF THE HUNTER was going to be up my street and, boy, it did not disappoint. Exaggerated zoom close-ups, spotlight on the faces of the characters and eye-catching vintage fashion and motors encapsulates the lengths that the filmmakers have gone to make the film feel as authentic as possible to the cinematic era its emulating.
The introduction of the three main characters pulls you into the story from the opening scenes. We have Alma, who lives alone with her lampshade-sporting dog, Otis, and Alma’s dressed-to-impress sister, Elizabeth, who lives in the city and works in family law. The sisters are like chalk and cheese, they’re so different, but it seems both are quite fond of old friend Wesley and it’s not hard to see why. With his mature good looks, sweet-talking charmer Wesley is every bit the charismatic gent. Over the course of several nights, we get to know the three as they catch up on each other’s lives over dinner, as well as being introduced to Wesley’s son Percy and Alma’s daughter Rose who are present at odd meal times as dinner guests. Outside of Alma and Elizabeth’s log cabin, we even spend a little time with Wesley’s wife Genevieve and Alma’s partially blind friend who lives and hunts in the woods, BJ Beavers. These quirky characters all have a bit of something unusual about them but it seems Wesley, the most “straight” of them all, may be the one harbouring the biggest secret. Whatever it is, Alma has suspicions something isn’t right…
I liken CLIMATE OF THE HUNTER to the erotic, psychedelic cinema of the 1970’s, including those with the horror angle like the softcore lesbian vampire efforts shot by Jess Franco. The film embraces surreal elements accompanied by that soft, warm lighting blur that so many films of the era had. A splash of amateur special FX used to ramp up the horror element, totally in keeping with the film’s aesthetic, only heightened my pleasure more. Just when you think you’ve seen it all, the film reveals a few more surprises which added the cherry on top to a film that I had already fell head over heels for.
With CLIMATE OF THE HUNTER, Mickey Reece and his team have absolutely captured the 70’s aesthetic from top to bottom. I can’t express the excitement and joy this movie gave me and how the many details included has instilled my faith that there’s still room for this kind of cinema in today’s world. The combination of the style and narrative is accentuated by terrific performances from all involved, in particular Ginger Gilmartin, Mary Buss and Ben Hall as Alma, Elizabeth and Wesley, who carry the story along to its conclusion.
Writer and director Mickey Reece, writer John Selvidge and the crew have achieved something quite magical and unique with CLIMATE OF THE HUNTER. It has cult gem written all over it and I have no doubt that love for this movie will blossom as it reaches new audiences. There’s nothing more to add other than to truly appreciate the film you must experience it for yourself.