REVIEW: Hunters (2016)

Whenever a new horror movie is released, whether it be mainstream, indie, or underground, that touts itself on being extremely brutal or over-the-top, my interest is immediately piqued. No, I’m not sure what that says about me exactly, but I tend to seek out the most extreme films I can find, because I’m a fan of horror, I’m a fan of gory special effects, and I’m a fan of intense movies.

So, naturally, when Adam Ahlbrandt announced a couple of years ago that he was going to be making a film called Hunters, I was intrigued. I am a fan of Ahlbrandt’s previous films, including The Cemetery and Cross Bearer, two movies I found to be quite entertaining, if lacking in extremes. With a tagline like “can you take the violation,” Hunters had my attention from day one, and now that I’ve had the chance to sit and watch it, I can honestly say, well…there are plenty of violations that happen in this movie.

It’s dangerous, dark, and yes, extremely violent – although it feels far from the sort of sincere brutality of a film such as Mordum, or even a polished film like A Serbian Film. But those films find themselves in good company, as Hunters has no problems taking you over the edge. If you want to feel dirty while watching a movie, look no further; If on-screen rapes are not your thing, turn away now, young film viewer, as this movie is relentless in its penetrations. But hey, let’s back up a bit here. I’m getting ahead of myself.

Hunters follows a group of film students as they make their way to an abandoned building in the backwoods of Pennsylvania, but, like most oblivious college kids, they don’t realize that they’re being stalked and hunted (ha!) by a couple of sadistic brothers in dirty Army fatigues and dirtier southern accents. J.D. Brown, who is no stranger to the world of Ahlbrandt, absolutely steals every damn scene he’s in playing one of the brothers. He’s mean and brutal, and is the cause of several of the aforementioned rapes. Brown was good in Cross Bearer, great in The Cemetery, but here, I absolutely love him, and he shows why he should have a much bigger IMDb resume.

Other horror-actor staples include the lovely Haley Madison and Ellie Church, scream queens of the underground, and even Linnea Quigley, who has appeared in over 140 films, most of them horror, since the 70s, including some of my favorite horror and exploitation films, such as Return of the Living Dead, Night of the Demons, and Savage Streets. Lots of times in the bottom of the underground, the actors feel like they’re acting, but Ahlbrandt is unusually adept at making his team sound good and look great. His eye for cinematography is beautiful, even when the imagery is anything but.

For a movie that was a few years in the making, I think they hype, for me, got built up above expectations it could have ever reached, as far as what level of brutality I was expecting, but that’s decidedly always going to be the case for a gorehound like myself. To say that Hunters is not at the high-level of depravity would be an understatement. The content here is not for the weak. Of all of Ahlbrandt’s films so far, this is the crown-jewel of the bunch in terms of sheer entertainment value, storyline, and straight-up carnage. No generic boogieman here, but damn, do these Hunters get their kill.

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