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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Season of the Hunted

This week's movie is an odd blend of cliches and originality, all mixed together. It's called Season of the Hunted, and it's the story of a group of buddies who go on a hunting trip together, only to be hunted themselves. Read on, but as always, be prepared to have everything SPOILED as I watch this thing.

The first scene looks like something you'd see on Skinemax after 11 p.m. It's a couple making love, while a guy is being chased down. After the couple finish up, the husband, Steve, goes to visit his old buddy Frank. Frank's played by Muse Watson, best known as The Fisherman in the I Know What You Did movies. They fought together in the military, presumably Vietnam, and decide to get together with more of Steve's friends for a hunting vacation.

The group consists of Steve, who's a firefighter and about to be a first-time dad; Frank, a mechanic who has troubling memories of the war; Al who looks like one of the Sopranos; Charlie, the loudmouthed clown of the group; and Lenny, who looks like a Vegas act waiting to happen. They have a disagreement early on over what weapon is best to hunt with, between a bow or a gun. Honestly, I'm surprised that Frank doesn't mention a hook, given his prior roles. They try flirting with a smoking-hot waitress then resume their journey. Hey, can we make a movie about hot waitresses instead? No? Damn!

The group of buddies meet up with Mitch, the owner of the hunting lodge they booked the trip through. See, Steve found the lodge online, and thought it sounded like fun. Oh, and Mitch looks like what Yosemite Sam might resemble if he became a flesh and blood person. I'll bet he says things like "Consarnit!" and "Tar-nation!" a lot.

He guides their vehicle to his hunting lodge, where they meet a group of local hillbillies who are going to guide them through the woods. The other country bumpkins are Jed, Roy, Earl, Wilbur and Ben, who is a gigantic mute. We also get the promise that we'll meet "Jimbo" later. Can't hardly wait! Yee-haw! Oh, and Bobbi-Jo, a woman who catches Frank's eye.

In record time, they all get annoyed with each other, then get drunk while playing poker. The hillbillies bring out their homemade whiskey, and soon everyone gets good and drunk. Frank leaves the game last, and decides to explore, but Mitch stops him. Before Frank can stagger off to bed, Bobbi-Jo makes him an offer too good to pass up(for him...I'm still slobbering over the waitress!). Hope he wore his raincoat...and his large hook!

The next morning, the hillbillies suggest breaking into several groups, to cover more ground(Yeah, RIGHT!). Each of our guys is put into a group with at least 2 hillbillies. Frank doesn't say anything in front of the rest of the hunters,but he finds the idea of separating to be highly suspicious. Smart man, that Frank...How the heck did Jennifer Love Hewitt keep getting away from this guy?

Charlie is the first one who discovers the true motives of the hillbillies. They take his gun away and give him a ten-count to run away. Before they finish counting, they even release a dog to track him. At the same time, Lenny is shot through the chest by Mitch, and Al witnesses it. He nearly gets hit by another arrow, and takes off into the trees.

Frank and Steve hear Al's gun go off, and Frank gets suspicious. He gets the hillbillies to leave him alone with Steve, and tells his friend that he thinks the lodge members are up to something. He proves it by setting up a tree to look like him, complete with his jacket, cap, and a lit cigarette. As he and Steve watch from a nearby hiding place, an arrow flies at the decoy.

Al gets hit in the leg, and has to stop before too long. He tears the arrow out of his leg, screaming bloody murder, and makes a tourniquet to try to staunch the bleeding. Mitch and Jimbo hear him moaning, and fire another arrow through his hand, pinning him down.

After seeing Frank's paranoia confirmed by the arrow in the decoy tree, Steve agrees to cover Frank while he retrieves his jacket. Frank's plan is to wait until the hillbillies show up, then pick them off. Even after seeing the arrow in the tree, Steve still isn't entirely sure that Frank is right about the hillbillies, but he agrees to keep watch.

Mitch and Jimbo tie Al to a tree, and Mitch tastes his blood. While he screams and threatens them, they strip him of his shirt, then gut him. At the same time, Frank manages to pick off one of the hunters, and another one captures Charlie. Frank hits another of the killers, but the hick dies before Frank can interrogate him. He and Steve agree that they need to rely on their military training to rescue the others.

Charlie is the next to go. He also gets tied to a tree, and his killers whip out a chainsaw. Grinning, Ben the Mute chops down both the tree and Charlie. Ouch. Frank and Steve spot the pair, and manage to kill Ben with an arrow through the head, Steve Martin-style. Too bad. He had all the best lines in the script. The other hillbilly gets hit in the upper chest, but lives. He tells Frank and Steve nothing useful, even after Frank tortures him for a bit. Frank should've just made him watch I'll Always Know What You Did Last Summer, it's enough torture to last a lifetime.

While Steve continues to cry and wail, Frank convinces him that he needs to survive, for his wife and unborn child. When Steve suggests that they should leave the others behind, Frank reveals that he can't, because of his experiences during the war. Inexplicably, this scene ends with Steve's wife on the phone with her mother. Great script decision. Suspense always goes well with a large dash of the mundane.

While hiking, they find a cabin in the woods. It's a slaughterhouse. Literally. Inside, Bobbi-Jo is carving up one of their friends to cook, but Frank bursts in. He wounds her, and asks her why the killers are doing this. She tells him that they trap hunters up in the woods all the time, for the express purpose of eating them. When Frank asks her why she gave him the blow job, she laughs and says that she likes to taste her meat before it's cooked. Disgusted, Frank cuts her throat.

Frank and Steve find Mitch disemboweled, and Steve vomits and cries. Frank slaps him, and they keep moving. A safe distance away, Frank tells Steve to remain hiding while he scouts the area for the remaining killers. Hilariously, the boom mike is visible right above them. Classic.

As soon as Frank leaves, Mitch captures Steve. The cannibal tries to get Steve to talk, but he refuses. When Mitch fires an arrow into Steve's leg, Frank fires his own arrow into Mitch's side, dropping him like a sack of potatoes. Frank cuts Steve loose, then spots another hillbilly and chases him. He hits the guy in the leg, and the hillbilly pulls the arrow out after a brief struggle with it.

He ambushes Frank, and the two men brawl. Meanwhile, Mitch isn't dead. He gets up, and watches Steve convulse on the ground. He doesn't kill Steve, but he does grab a heavy branch. Frank kills his prey with an arrow through the ear, then rescues Steve. He pulls the arrow out of his friend, then dresses the wound before they resume their journey.

That night, they flag down a passing car. Frank makes up a story to explain Steve's injury, and the motorist drives them to his house. Steve lies down in a bedroom filled with animal skins and weapons decorating the walls, while Frank goes with the Good Samaritan to call the authorities. Gee, I wonder if the creepy motorist/hunter is one of the bad guys?

Steve falls asleep, and has a nightmare. In it, Frank dies. He wakes up, covered in sweat and clutching his blankets. Wus.

The homeowner and Frank face off in the kitchen, and the creepy guy pulls a shotgun on Frank. The man delivers a cliche-filled speech about why he and his buddies hunt humans, and Steve uses the distraction to slip out of bed. He gets the drop on the guy, stabs him in the neck, then calls him a bitch. After also shooting another cannibal and trapping Mitch in a bear trap, Frank and Steve take the car and leave. As they drive away, Steve's wife calls, and then he and Frank joke about not booking any more online trips. THE END...oh, except for a dedication to 9/11. I'm not sure that it's entirely appropriate to dedicate a film about cannibalistic hunters to a national tragedy, but maybe that's just me, I dunno. Your mileage may vary.

Strange movie, man. It was kind of refreshing, in a way, to see a slasher film use an older cast, but the whole "hillbilly cannibal" thing really needs to be retired for about a decade or so. Also, it was disappointing that the movie featured no leading roles for the women, at least one of whom was a real head-turner. 3 out of 5 killer trees for this one...wasn't terrible, but it wasn't particularly noteworthy, either.

From Season of the Hunted, I learned:

-Killer Fishermen need vacations, too.
-Cannibalism is a great way to unite a community.
-In every hick town, there's always a mute who's about 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide. And mute.

Next week, we return to Jason territory with the 9th entry, Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday. Don't believe that subtitle for a second! There were about 700 more that followed it. Happy Hunting!