Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Hunted, Bow Hunting Season for the Paranormal

Ahhhh, the fall! I love it. Cool, invigorating temperatures! The World Series!  Hockey Season! Plenty of parking at my place of employment!  Hunting season has commenced and half my office has taken to the woods of Pennsylvania, Virginia, or West Virginia. They'll probably all return relatively unscathed....probably.    Caution must prevail, however, as Robert Frost reminds us that those woods are "beautiful, dark, and deep..."  What could go wrong?  How about a screaming, malevolent, lunatic of a ghost who probably hates men.  This brings us to 2013's "The Hunted," a film written by, directed by, and starring Josh Stewart (see photo below).
As our film begins, we meet Jake (Stewart) and his family.  Two beautiful children and a lovely, adoring wife (Nikki Deloach)....who is fine with him going on a three day hunting trip without her! A sense of desperation can be detected in our hunter.  This is not just a routine excursion into the West Virginian woods.  Apparently Jake has risked it all to follow a dream, and a passion.  Providing for his loved ones is at stake.  Fully equipped with the best bow, and a sponsor, Jake will attempt to film the pilot of a hunting show during this bow hunt.  If all goes well, he will sell it to a cable channel, and all will be good with life.  Also, his loyal friend, Stevie (Ronnie Gene Blevins, see photo below) will join him.  Stevie believes in Jake, and quit his job as a TV news cameraman to attach himself to Jake's dream.  Our duo then heads to the hunting grounds.....but not just any woods.  Jake has scored a coup.  A previously forbidden patch of woods has just been purchased by Tony (Skipp Sudduth). Tony is allowing Jake to be the first hunter ever to hunt deer there.  Is there a catch?  Is there something about those woods Tony is concealing?
Also included with this patch of woods is "Movie-Star."  No, not a beautiful Hollywood starlet, but an enormous and elusive buck.  Bagging "Movie-Star" would ensure Jake's pilot would be picked up by some network.  Uh oh!  The weird begins!  At first, Jake's knife mysteriously disappears, then reappears in a menacing manner.  Their equipment is sabotaged, including their tree stands (placed 20 feet above the ground).  Cameras are knocked off their trees.  Jake and Stevie look at the camera footage, and see stuff that just doesn't make sense.  Then the scream.  A blood curdling, angry scream.  A bobcat?  Yeah, right.  Now Stevie begins to get unhinged.  Jake's desperation to film this show, sell it, and provide for his family get in the way of him realizing that something in the woods means them harm.  Back at the lodge, Stevie finds out that these new hunting grounds have a gory and homicidal history.  With what's on the line...Jake convinces Stevie to return to the grounds to complete the show.  
The subtlety of the haunting escalates, as our hunters become the hunted.  The conclusion (no spoilers here) is horrifying.  Where "The Hunted" succeeds is not only in the scares, but in the characters.  Unlike "The Blair Witch Project" or "Paranormal Acivity," we actually like Jake and Stevie.  These are good guys who mean well.  Jake's love for his family is touching. Though this is technically a found footage flick Stevie is a great cameraman, and his equipment is first class....thus eliminating any shaking and grainy video.  Do yourselves a favor this hunting season, join Jake and Stevie and venture into this horror story.  See "The Hunted." 

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