NIGHT OF THE HUNTED (2023)
Vertigo Releasing. U.K. Cinemas/Shudder. Out Now. TVOD 20th November
A cracking, gripping, single location thriller, this US/French production is a remake of Spanish movie La Noche del Ratòn (2015). How it compares I couldn’t say.
A young woman, Alice (the excellent French/American model and actress Camille Rowe, The Deep House) takes a phone call from her husband – there is talk of a fertility expert. She is currently away from home staying in a motel.
She then gets into a car with John (Jeremy Scippio) and they head out into the night. As they converse you get the sense there is more to their relationship than work colleagues. Despite John supposedly having filled up the car, the warning light comes on meaning they have to pull into a gas station for fuel.
Alice goes into the mini mart to grab snacks. It’s late and there is no one in there, not even someone at the till. The first sign something is not right – the second is when she is hit by a bullet in the arm and severely hurt. Meanwhile John is oblivious to what is unfolding as he sits relaxing in the car.
More gunshots, seemingly emanating from a large billboard which declares GODISNOWHERE (all one word). She is pinned down and unable to leave. Hearing a voice over a walkie talkie, she initially hopes she can call for help, but then realises she is talking to her assailant.
This begins a pulse pounding game of cat and mouse, as he taunts her and she tries to survive, prevent others being picked off by the gunman and looks for an escape route. Luckily she is quite resourceful.
A suspenseful, claustrophobic and riveting thriller, this is carried by Rowe, who is onscreen the majority of the time, reacting to a disembodied voice.
A psychological shocker, director Franck Khalfoun (Maniac (2012) and P2 (2007)) skilfully uses the limited locale to ratchet up the tension, with the script by him and Glen Freyer throwing in a political aspect as the active shooter, in the sort of scenario you can imagine all too easily happening in the US, starts a diatribe about his situation – and why he feels justified in his actions. Clearly a comment on how things are in America and its divided political landscape, MeToo and cancel culture all rolled into one. The film is well shot by Steeven Petitteville making maximum use of the tight setting.