New Shudder Original Night of the Hunted rolled out on the horror streaming platform last week. More thriller than horror, it’s still a pretty intense film that kept me on the edge of my seat.
Our main character is Alice, played by Camille Rowe (The Deep House), and in the hands of a lesser actor, Night of the Hunted wouldn’t have nearly as good. From her first moments on screen, we get a good feel for Alice; her face looks exhausted, she is clearly not happy with her life, and her texts and phone conversations with her husband let us know that they are struggling as a couple.
It seems they are trying to get pregnant, and as we soon learn, Alice is having an affair with co-worker John – the two are at a work convention, and sharing a hotel room. They leave to head back home very late at night (or early in the morning, depending on how you look at it), and their conversation in the car is tense.
They stop at a gas station/convenience store, where John gasses up the car, and Alice goes in to pay. Oddly, there is no clerk at the counter, and the reason soon becomes clear as Alice sees blood spatter. Things get intense pretty quickly, as sniper rifle shots began to pepper the store, and Alice is shot in the arm.
The shooter seems to be stationed at a lighted billboard reading #GODISNOWHERE across from the gas station. That billboard was a brilliant touch, and kept me wondering if it said “God is nowhere” or “God is now here.”
That intensity stays amped up throughout the remainder of Night of the Hunted, as the shooter communicates with Alice via walkie-talkie, asking her questions about herself and taunting her. She is pretty innovative, and takes advantage of the store’s first aid kit and the merchandise available. My favorite trick of hers was taking multiple golf umbrellas, opening them, and using them to cover the sightlines for the store aisles.
The man’s reason for opening fire on Alice (and a few other customers who have the misfortune to gas up or walk inside) took away a little of my enthusiasm for the film. I won’t give spoilers, but let’s just say that the exhausting political climate in the US these days plays a big part in his anger.
Still, writer/director Franck Khalfoun (of P2 and the Maniac remake) kept me on edge and anxious up until the very end of Night of the Hunted, and it’s a bloody film well worth watching during the Halloween season.