Climate of the Hunter
If you like your horror gothic-tinged and existing somewhere between the strange and surreal, this singular, unsettling visual feast is for you.
It’s not just a similar title that Mickey Reece’s film shares with Scott Walker’s 1984 album Climate of Hunter. Both are working within a familiar genre, but pushing at the boundaries; for Walker it was the conventions of popular song, with Reece it’s a rebellion against lazier tropes of horror. The Oklahoman filmmaker has written and directed over 25 films in the space of a decade, but none has had the reach of this, his most accomplished work to date.
Climate of the Hunter unfolds in and around some wood. Wesley, who may possibly be a vampire, and his son Percy are invited to dinner and stay with their reclusive friend Alma. Also in attendance is her upstart sister Elizabeth and daughter Rose. There is little conventional plot beyond this set-up. Instead, what Reece delivers is a phantasmagoria of chills, psychedelia and surrealism. Alma’s reclusiveness has warped her sense of reality and it’s her perception of the world around her that transforms what we see.
Imagine the more outré elements of Ben Wheatley’s horror output shot through with the existential angst of Ingmar Bergman, yet remaining slyly, knowingly funny. Conversations tip towards the absurd at times and even chapter headings are in Portuguese. But that only adds to the cult attraction of the film and, oddly, makes it even more enticing a watch. And at a swift 82 minutes, the film smartly never outstays its welcome. It’s arguably the weirdest, most appealing cult film since Mandy.