For me, there is nothing I enjoy more (almost) than reviewing indie films. I am one that seeks out those who could benefit from the extra promotion, and although it can be difficult to sometimes squeeze it into my schedule, I am happy to help when I can. And that is exactly how I feel with The Hunt. This is an independent film, and it just so happens that Kyle Smithers, director of this film, was kind enough to give me the chance to review it. And the fact that it stars Rick Ravanello, one of my favorite actors (and people, for that matter), makes this particular review even more gratifying.
The storyline of this film is deceptively unpretentious. It’s called The Hunt, and Rick plays the Hunter. Simple enough, right? Or is it? I don’t want to reveal too much of the storyline, but just know that Rick’s character, the Hunter, is compelled to make a life-altering choice while he is in the forest, hunting deer. The entire experience of hunting the defenseless creature becomes a metaphor that aids him in making the decision. Does he make the “right” choice? All I will say is that the Hunter lives to see another day, and the story is one of the most pleasant, but thought-provoking shorts I’ve seen in awhile. Nevertheless, it still conveys a message that resonates deeply with me.
Throughout this short film, Rick’s character is on screen practically the entire time. He carries the action, the emotion, and the bulk of the story. Yes, the other characters are necessary, but if it were not for Rick’s command of the character that was written for him so aptly by Tony Rettenmaier, this short film would have unequivocally fallen flat. At least in my opinion.
While I am not an expert on the process of filming, lighting, sound, and the other skills that embody the art of filmmaking, I know that what I saw was done effectively. I applaud the fact that they shot in the forest as opposed to an indoor set. When Rick was filming this, we had no idea what he was filming. In fact, this was that infamous filming shot in which he duped the majority of us (myself included) by showing a picture of his injury.
The make-up was expertly done. Now, had Rick not been known for being so…ahem…accident-prone in his personal life, maybe we would have realized this was a genuine fake injury. But I will say that it looks quite realistic, thus well done on that point.
For me, this film demonstrates the caliber of Rick’s acting. I have reviewed his work numerous times, but it always amazes me how raw and realistic Rick makes his characters. He infuses them with humanity, and when Rick’s characters weep, we find ourselves weeping right along with him. When his characters make what we might consider ill-advised choices, we cringe and yell at the screen (Okay, maybe that’s just me who does that). Rick just has this way of causing us to feel everything his character feels. And this is decidedly true in this short film. I could not tear my eyes away from the screen.
I was fully impressed with the writing as well. When the tension could not be higher, a few lighter moments were injected into the plot. But that drama is palpable. And there are times when the viewers are not certain if what is being shown is a dream or reality. That only heightens the suspense. Will the Hunter make a diabolical choice that causes the audience to see him as one of the most detestable characters Rick has ever portrayed? Or will he make the decision we hope and pray he will? Thankfully, there is a conclusion where most of the loose ends are tied up. But for much of the film, the viewers must pay careful attention to every moment of the film lest something is inadvertently missed and the substance of the film is lost.
No doubt, Kyle’s directing has to be more than moderately stupendous as well. The various angles at which he shoots at times veritably keeps our focus on what the Hunter is experiencing. At times, the viewers are transported to that forest, and the divergent emotions of the Hunter are experienced by the viewers as well. It would be a treat to see this film on a large screen as viewing is on a small screen seems to somewhat miss the impact of the beauty of nature and the conflict of the Hunter.
All in all, I have no criticism for the film. In fact, I believe this film is such that it could be expanded upon to create a full-length feature or at least a more substantial film. But of course, that requires time and resources that the filmmakers may not have at their disposal. Both the joy and agony of indie films. Phenomenal stories without the restrictions of the studios but also without the funding of the studios.
I am so grateful to Kyle for giving me the opportunity to witness his superb short film, and I can only hope that in time, more people will be able to see this extraordinary film.
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